A STUDY IN THE HISTORY OF THE
FIRST TWO CENTURIES
W. R. SORLEY
SCHOLAR OS* TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
SHAW FELLOW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
DEIGHTON BELL AND CO.
LONDON: GEOBGE BELL AND SONS
PRINTED BY C. J. CLAY, M.A.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
The Hulsean Dissertation for 1880, which is now
published, is an attempt to trace the relation which the
Jewish Christians of the first two centuries bore to
Judaism. Without pretending to be an exhaustive dis-
cussion, it seeks to point out the way in which the new
faith was distinguished from the old, and to follow the
successive steps by which this difference became manifest.
In one aspect it may be regarded as a criticism of the
Tubingen theory. But its aim is rather to give an
independent view of a distinct, though related, subject.
The limits of an historical essay have been closely ad-
hered to throughout; and the conclusions arrived at have
been made to depend, as little as possible, on the decision
of questions in dispute amongst literary critics.
W. R S.
I. Introductory: nature of the subject and its relation to the
Tubingen theory ......
II. State of Judaism at the time when Christianity arose . . 5
1. Want of national homogeneity:
Hebrews and Hellenists .... 5
2. Want of religious harmony :
Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, and their relation
to Christianity ...... 7
III. Eelation of Jewish Christians to Judaism in the Apostolic
A. Preparatory :
1. Meaning of the term ' Jewish Christian ' .14
2. Beview of Authorities . . .17
B. The three stages of this relationship . . .24
1. The Belief in the Messiahship of Jesus as differen-
tiating the early Christians from other Jews . 25
(1) The implications of this belief seen chiefly
from its place in the writings of the Apostles . 28
(2) Its immediate result distinguishing Christians
from Jews . . . . .31
(a) missionary character of Christianity . 31
(b) persecution of Christians by the Jews . 31
(c) independent organization of the Christians . 32
2. Traditional external observances still adhered to
3. The Conflict between the new idea and these
external customs .
(1) Origin of the conflict .
(2) The conflict itself
(a) The Council of Jerusalem, its parties, and
(b) The Schism at Antioch : its real signi
(3) The result of the conflict
Consequent attitude of Christianity to Judaism .
C. State of Parties at the close of the Apostolic Age .
1. The Paulinists, now quite freed from Judaism
2. The older apostles (who seem to have kept the law
without regarding its observance as essential)
3. The extreme « Jewish Christians ' or * Judaizers
IV. The Post- Apostolic Age .....
distinguished from the preceding chiefly by one external event,
the destruction of the Temple
A. Effect of this event,
1. On the Jews ....
2. On the Christians
(1) narrower effect on those in Palestine
(2) more catholic effect on the thought of the
B. Authorities for this part of the subject
C. The consequent relation of the Jewish Christians to
Difference between their external and their doctrinal
1. The external relation .
(1) Traces of original unseparatedness (?)
(2) Explicit break from the side of Judaism
(3) Consequences of this
2. The theological or doctrinal relation . . .65
(1) Position as to legal observance . . .66
(2) Position as to Christology . 69
(a) attitude of the Jews to the Jewish Christians . 69
(a) first attitude : abstract monotheism . 70
(j8) modified position : nomism . . .71
(b) attitude of the Jewish Christians . . 73
(3) Besultant Jewish Christian sects in their mutual
relation and relation to Judaism . . 74
(a) Nazarenes and Ebionites . . .74
(b) Essene Christians : their relation to the Essenes 80
(a) in custom ..... 80
(fi) in doctrine . . . . .81
(7) their identification . . . .83
V. Beview and Conclusion ..... 84
I PUEPOSE in the following pages to discuss a question
closely connected with, but yet distinct from, the main
theory of the Tubingen school. This theory, which is
chiefly associated with the name of Ferdinand Christian
Baur, aims at a reconstruction of the history of early Chris-
tianity, and of the purpose and origin of the Christian
Scriptures, based on a thorough-going distinction between
Jewish and Gentile Christians. Baur holds that this differ-
ence was far more deeply rooted and extensive than previous
historians had imagined or the Christian records would have
us believe. Founding his argument on the admitted dis-
sensions in the early Church, borne witness to by the Epistles
of St Paul — especially the Epistle to the Galatians and
the First Epistle to the Corinthians — and by the Acts of
the Apostles, he contends that in the latter work there is
a systematic attempt to gloss over the depth of difference
between the two parties and to narrow the extent of their
quarrels — an attempt which bears the impress of a time
when the opponents were (through the influence of the
persecutions that pressed on them from without) coming
to terms, and might be brought still closer by a historian
S. H. E. 1
who could so judiciously blend fact and fiction as to cool
the heated memory of former strife and to make believe
that the contending parties had from the outset been very
much at one.
This mediating tendency it is which Baur thinks he
has succeeded in exposing. He contends that the difference
between Jewish and Gentile Christians was one not of race
or social custom merely, but in their fundamental concep-
tions of Christianity, and that the former had much more
in common with the unbelieving Jews than with the Gentile
converts of Paul and his Hellenistic fellow-workers. As
Zeller puts it in his essay on the Tubingen school 1 , " Baur
took his stand on the fact that the apostles and the
apostolic age were already divided by the opposition of
Judaism and Paulinism, of a particularistic and a universal-
istic, an Old Testament legal and a freer conception of Chris-
tianity, that this opposition died out only gradually after
many contests and attempts at reconciliation, and that it
first reached its term in the second half of the second cen-
tury in the Catholic Church and its dogmatic. In that deep-
reaching opposition Baur sees the impelling force by which
the development of the Church proceeded for more than a
century; by the position they adopted towards it the dog-
matic character of individuals and parties are, according to
him, determined ; the monuments of the conflicts and media-
tions by which it was brought to an end we still have in the
extra-canonical and in the New Testament writings. Every
stage of the way which the Church left behind it in its
development is marked by writings some of which are (for
the most part incorrectly) ascribed to the apostles or to
pupils of the apostles, and, in the sequel, were placed along-
1 Vortrage und Abhandlungen (1865), p. 287.
THE TUBINGEN THEORY. 3
side of the sacred codex of the Jews as a New Testament
The object of the remarkable series of works inaugurated
by the article on 'The Christ-party in the Corinthian Church 1 '
is to trace the relation of the Jewish Christians to their
Gentile brethren. But the historical picture painted there
has also its obverse side — that of their relation to Judaism
and the Jews ; and it is to this aspect of the question that
the present dissertation seeks to draw attention.
Not only are these two sides of the question closely bound
together, but perhaps it is not too much to say that the
latter aspect, though it has received less attention than the
former, is really the more fundamental of the two. We can
scarcely take a single step with Baur in tracing the suc-
cessive conflicts and reconciliations between the Paulinist
and the Petrinist, the Gentile and the Jewish Christian
parties, without being driven back to consider the relation
in which the Jewish or Petrinist party stood to the tradi-
tional doctrines and customary observances of Judaism.
The sharp distinctions which Baur seeks to make out be-
tween the two parties in the Church are, at the same time,
an argument for the closer connection of one of these parties
with the hereditary worship and creed. The more the
Jewish Christians are separated from the Paulinists the
nearer are they brought to the non-Christian Jews. Every
characteristic which is made to distinguish them from the
former is equally and at the same time a bond uniting them
to the latter.
And just in the same way we cannot go along with the
opponents of Baur in directing attention to the funda-
mental agreement which from the first existed between
1 * Die Christuspartei in der korinthischen Gemeinde,' Tubinger Zeitschrift
fiir Theologie, 1831, Heft iv. pp. 61 ff.
4 INTRODUCTION. "
Jewish and Gentile Christians, and which the Tubingen
school ignored, or are said to have ignored, without, by
implication at least, extending our consideration to the
relation borne by both parties, and especially by the former,
to the old national creed and ceremonial. Baur and his
critics are agreed in admitting that at any rate one party in
the Church occupied a totally different ground from that of
Judaism, and the greater the amount of harmony which
can be made out between that party and the so-called
Jewish Christians, the greater must have been the diver-
gence of the latter from their ancestral position.
In a word, the greater the difference between Jewish
and Gentile Christians, the greater must the similarity
have been between Jewish Christians and Judaism, while,
on the other hand, the greater the agreement between the
former, so much the more real and important must the
distinction between the latter have been. The following
discussion will thus have to traverse a good deal of the
well-trodden ground of the Tubingen school; and, as this
school holds that two essentially different factors — Jewish
and Gentile Christianity — became welded into the Catholic
Church, the inquiry will have to be made here whether
the Jewish Christians were originally almost indistinguish-
able from the Jews, as Baur's theory implies, and Dr Graetz,
the learned historian of Judaism, maintains; and also
whether the various sects and parties of Jewish Christians
with which the post-apostolic age is full were — all or
any of them — the representatives of early Christianity, or
whether they were not rather the development of tendencies
which were only latent in the early Church, and, in the
prominence which they afterwards obtained, the product
to a large extent of the religious and social upheavals of
STATE OF JUDAISM. 5
But before going on to discuss these questions it will be
necessary to give some account of the state of Judaism
itself — its spirit and various sects and parties — at the
time when Christianity arose.
Neither nationally nor doctrinally did Judaism any
longer retain the homogeneity of its earlier years. Though
the people may still have sought to preserve a united front
against those without, previous dispersion and defeat had
left no transient mark on their political unity. The wave
of Western conquest on the crest of which Greece broke
the narrow limits of the Aegean and extended its power and
its culture to the then known world, had pierced the outer
wall of partition that separated the Jews from surrounding
races. The Jew abroad had already become a notable
phenomenon in history ; and, in addition to the old Hebrew
race settled in Palestine, there arose Jewish settlers in
Alexandria, Kome, and most of the great towns of the
world, who, while maintaining their old religious worship
and the purity of their race, became conformed to the
language, and, in part, to the customs, of the people
amongst whom they lived, and caught unconsciously their
very mode of thought. The descendants of these Jewish
settlers were, from their use of the Greek tongue, called ' Hel-
lenists ' to distinguish them from the ' Hebrews ' of Palestine
who still spoke a dialect of the ancient language. It was
Hellenistic Jews that first carried the Gospel to the Gentile
races, and to them Paul and Barnabas belonged. It was
in consequence of an alleged neglect of their widows by the
Hebrews that the first dissensions of the early Church
arose, and it was the Hellenist Stephen — the most promi-
nent of the seven deacons appointed to appease this dis-
content — who became the proto-martyr of the Christian
STATE OF JUDAISM.
Church, and who is looked upon by Baur as the precursor
of the Apostle Paul in his struggle with Jewish Christi-
At the same time these Hellenists were not necessarily
Hellenizers either in doctrine or custom. It is scarcely
necessary to say that they are not to be identified with the
'Hellenists' of an earlier period, who, during the wars of
independence against the Syrians, imitated the luxury and
licentiousness of the Syrian Greeks and were rightly re-
garded by the other Jews as traitors to the covenant 1 . But
the use of the Septuagint version of the Scriptures even
by those of them w T ho knew Hebrew, and of the Greek
language for all ordinary purposes, not only made them
susceptible to Western culture, but at the same time cut
them off from the sympathies of their Palestinian brethren,
from whose lips a modification of the old Hebrew speech was
still to be heard, and who had no further literature than
the Hebrew Scriptures and the interpretations by which
they were beginning to be overlaid. And though many
families — that of the Apostle Paul, for example — may have
been as strict as any inhabitants of Jerusalem 2 , yet, as a
general rule, the Hellenistic Jews seem to have been
less warmly attached to the rites associated with the Temple
worship, as they certainly let them drop with less apparent
difficulty after their adoption of Christianity 8 .
Thus the suspicion with which Hebrew regarded Hel-
lenistic Jew paved the way for that conflict between Jewish
and Gentile Christians which well nigh rent the infant
Church in twain. But the difference between them was,
for the most part, one of sentiment and tendency rather
1 Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, 2nd ed., in. 9.
3 Phil. iii. 5 ; Acts xxvi. 5 ; Gal. i. 14 ; 2 Cor. xi. 22.
3 Graetz, iv. 77.
HEBEEWS AND HELLENISTS. 7
than of creed and worship. Though the Alexandrians put
the spiritual meaning of the Jewish ordinances above their
formal observance, and though there may have been a
tendency amongst some of them to treat the latter as in-
different, yet Philo, their greatest representative and one
who used the allegorising method to its full extent, contends
that we must be equally careful, both in the diligent search
of what is hidden, and in the strict observance of what is
revealed 1 . No two things, it is true, are more radically
opposed than the philosophy of religion he cultivated and
the corresponding science among the Pharisees of Palestine.
The whole meaning of the two movements is different. The
one is more Greek than Hebrew, breathes the spirit of
philosophy rather than that of a positive historic religion,
while the other is strongly opposed to the introduction of
foreign elements, is unspeculative, exegetical, and founded
on a worship of the letter. But the speculative tendency
of the former is subtly interfused through a form of Scrip-
tural interpretation, and thus clothed on with a semblance
of the realities of the orthodox Jewish belief. Over their
deeper differences there was thrown a superficial garb of
agreement, and the philosophers of Alexandria, as well as
the legalists of Jerusalem, fully acknowledged the authority
of Moses and the prophets and obeyed all the behests of
the law 2 .
Not less important, however, than this want of national
homogeneity among the Jews, was an inner difference
amongst the inhabitants of Palestine itself which was more
closely connected with their religious conceptions.
It would lead us too far afield to enter here into a
thorough investigation of the character, relation to one
1 De migr. Abr., Opera, ed. Mangey, i. 450.
2 Cf. Neander, Church History (Engl, transl. 1847), i. 72.
o STATE OF JUDAISM.
another, and relation to Christianity, of the ' three philoso-
phical sects/ as Josephus calls them 1 , of the Pharisees, Saddu-
cees, and Essenes. Bat traces of these different parties will
so often meet us in the sequel, that it will be well to carry
with us a picture in outline of their distinctive features.
Much of the difficulty of portraying them arises from the
fact that they were the gradual product of the political,
religious, and, so to speak, literary experiences through
which the Jews passed between the time of the Maccabees
and the time of Christ, and when the voice of prophecy had
long ceased to be heard among them. We must remember,
too, that it is somewhat misleading to talk of them as ' sects '
in the ordinary acceptation of the term. The strict distinc-
tion and definite doctrines implied by that name were, for a
considerable time at any rate, unknown amongst them. The
difference between them was only in the second place theo-
logical, and was primarily one of political and social aims.
The Sadducees worshipped alongside of the Pharisees, and, if
the Essenes had a separate and peculiar cult which excluded
them from the Temple service, they differed from the Phari-
sees not so much in their ultimate object as by their despair
of obtaining it in practical affairs, and their consequent
attempt to realize their ideal of Judaism by a withdrawal
from ordinary life. Besides, as Graetz points out 2 , it is
somewhat unfair to regard the Pharisees as a mere sect, since
the mass of the people belonged to their party, and looked
up to them as their religious leaders. For the Essenes lived
apart from the main stream of Jewish life, while the Saddu-
cees — whether from aristocratic contempt or from knowledge
1 Bell. Jud. II. 8, § 2 : Tpta y&p irapb. 'lovdalois etdrj (piXocrofa'iTat, Kal rov
ixkv aipeTKTral $api<rcuoi k.t.X. Cf. Antiq. xvm. 1. § 2. 'lovdalois (piXoaotplcu
rpets yj<rav 4k tov ircwv apx^ov t&v irarptop.
2 Gesch. d. Judcn, in. 73 ; cf. Keim, Jesus von Nazara, I. 251.
THE SADDUCEES. 9
of the world — seem to have relinquished the leading idea of
Judaism, that of the divine guidance of their nation, and
thus to have found themselves so thoroughly out of sympathy
with the people that, though they were the political heads of
the nation, and in possession of the higher priestly offices 1 ,
popular feeling was so strong against them that they were
compelled — so Josephus tells us — to conform to the doctrines
of the Pharisees in their exercise of magisterial functions 2 .
It had fallen to the Sadducees, who were at once the
priests and nobles of the nation, to guide its fortunes through
periods of military weakness and political dependence. " The
Sadducees are the representatives of the new state which
grew out of the rising under the Maccabees, the Pharisees are
the representatives of the community whose foundation and
whose end was the law 3 ." As soldiers or statesmen the
former had come to trust to individual exertion and to cast
aside the doctrine of divine providence. Their views were
thus conditioned throughout by opposition to the Pharisees
of whose creed this belief was the key-note. The latter were
the religious party in the nation, but opposed the political
programme of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the
political party, but developed a theological position antago-
nistic to that of their opponents. They substituted individual
free-will for the divine decree or elfiapfiivt) (though the Pha-
risees had not regarded the two as inconsistent), and rejected
1 The intimate connection of the priests with the Sadducees is plain from
the way in which they are spoken of in the New Testament, e.g. Acts v. 17.
That the Sadducees were the priestly party was asserted by Geiger in his
monograph on * Sadducaer und Pharisaer ' first published in the Judische
Zeitschrift filr Wissenschaft und Leben, n. (1862). The same view was after-
wards worked out with full and conclusive argument by Wellhausen, Die
Pharisaer und die Sadducaer (1874). Compare Mr Bobertson Smith's recent
work, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (1881), pp. 54, 62, 395.
3 Jos. Antiq. xvin. 1. § 4 ; cf. Keim, Jesus, i. 181 f.
8 Wellhausen, op. cit. , p. 94.
10 STATE OF JUDAISM.
the doctrine of the resurrection of the body 1 — Josephus says
of the immortality of the soul 2 — by which the Pharisees
vindicated their belief in the moral government of God.
They seem to have also rejected the 'traditions of the elders 8 '
or 'unwritten tradition 4 ' which had gathered round the
Scriptures and by which the Scribes interpreted and applied
them. According to some early Christian accounts 5 they
acknowledged the authority of no Scriptures except the
books of the Torah, appealing to the letter of the Pentateuch
as their standard, just as, at a subsequent period, the Karaites
rejected the Talmud and fell back on the literal interpreta-
tion of Scripture, and as, from other motives, the Reformers
cast aside the traditions of the Church and proclaimed the
Bible to be 'the religion of Protestants.' Despite the dry,
rationalistic tendency thus manifested, it is here perhaps — in
their rejection of tradition— that we come upon the only
point on which the early Christian community had any
similarity to the Sadducees. And, after the destruction of
Jerusalem, the Pharisees set themselves to defend their oral
traditions against the Christians just as they had formerly
had to defend them against the Sadducees.
Both with Pharisaism and with Essenism Christianity
has more points of contact; and Christ himself has been
asserted by one Jewish author 6 to have been an Essene, by
another 7 to have been, a Pharisee. Mr de Quincey too has
made popular the notion that the early Christians were a
party of Essenes ; and, though the conclusion of the brilliant
1 Matt. xx. 23 ; cf. Mark xii. 18 ; Acts xxiii. 8.
2 Bell. Jud. ii. 8. § 14.
8 ILapa86<reis tup irpGapvripwv — N. T.
4 UapadoiTis dypa<f>os — Philo and Josephus.
5 Origen, Tertullian and Jerome ; but cf. Wellhausen, p. 73 n.
8 Graetz, in his Geschichte der Juden.
7 Geiger; see p. 38 of the monograph cited above.
THE ESSENES. 11
essayist was perhaps as much due to love of paradox and
literary effect as to scientific conviction, the arguments of
Graetz in support of a similar view call for closer examina-
tion. But if the predominantly religious view of things and
the elevated morality of the Essenes, including their renun-
ciation of the pleasures of the world, find their counterpart in
Christianity, the practical and (without begging the question
as to its universal application) missionary character of the
latter has nothing to correspond with it in the retired life of
the former ; while the very idea of a Messiah, as well as the
prophetic literature that enshrined it, seems to have re-
mained unknown to, or unacknowledged by, the Essenes. And
though their conception of a universal priesthood reminds us
of the similar doctrine of the New Testament 1 , the two priest-
hoods are far from identical in character: the excessively
exact ritual of Essenism, its set prayers and sacrifices, lustra-
tions and strict sabbatic observances, initiatory oath, minute
regulations as to dress, and abhorrence of anointing oil, are
all opposed to the freer spirit of the Gospel 2 ; while its
dualistic philosophy, with the mystic doctrines that followed
in its train, and consequent rejection of marriage, indicate an
entirely different standpoint from that of Christianity. The
lavations of the Essenes have, it is true, been compared to the
Christian baptism. But the latter is a ceremony performed
once for all, and not a constantly recurring ordinance ; be-
sides — at any rate at a subsequent period and perhaps also
before the time of Christ — baptism formed part of the
initiatory rites by which outsiders were admitted into the
Jewish covenant as Proselytes of Eighteousness, and may
have passed thence — but not from Essenism — into Christi-
1 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9 ; Eev. i. 6 ; cf. Kifcsehl, EnUtehung der alt-katholischen
Kirche, 2nd ed., p. 200.
2 See especially Mark vii. 14 — 23.
12 STATE OF JUDAISM.
anity. And even the voluntary poverty, and community of
goods 1 , on which Graetz seems chiefly to rely for establishing
the Essenism of Christ, are not shown to be identical in the
two. For, though Christ and those who accompanied Him
on His journeys had doubtless a common purse 2 , there is no
reason to suppose that goods were held in common amongst
those who did not travel with Him, but yet ranked them-
selves and were ranked by Him as His disciples. And even
in the early apostolic Church the community of goods does'
not appear to have been compulsory upon all its members 8 ,
but seems rather to have been the spontaneous reply of
hearts newly touched by the feeling of a common brother-
hood, than the result of any deliberate institution on the
part of the leaders of the Church.
Even if we so far agree with Keim* in looking upon
John the Baptist as forming the link between the Essenes
and Christ, we must remember that John was radically
distinguished from them by forsaking their contemplative
life for the practical work of preaching, while his leading
thought was the near fulfilment of that Messianic idea
which they seem to have rejected. It would almost appear,
indeed, that he had much more in common with the Zealots
than with the Essenes. The Zealots arose out of the
Pharisaic party, but what the latter held as a mere theoretic
belief, their wild enthusiasm attempted to realize in present
politics. "They were fanatics for God and the fatherland,
not merely for God and the law 6 /' And, though their
1 The comparison on this point between the Therapeutae of Philo and the
early Christian community as described in Acts ii. 14, 15, was already insti-
tuted by Eusebius, H. E. t n. 17.
2 John xii. 6, xiii. 29. 3 j^ c ^ Q v# 4 #
4 Der geschichtliche Christus, 3rd ed., p. 17 ; cf. his Jesus, i. 483, where
John is said to have been ' nicht unmittelbar ein Essaer.'
6 Wellhausen, p. 109.
THE PHARISEES. 13
political aims were transformed by him into a purely reli-
gious purpose, John's burning call to repentance and pre-
paration for the kingdom of God, which roused the people
of Judaea, was more nearly related to the ' Kingdom ' they
sought to realize than to the mystic piety of the Essenes.
Far greater, as it seems to me, was the similarity of
Christ's standpoint to that of the Pharisees. For both
occupied the common ground of the Jewish doctrine of the
covenant God and the promised Messiah. In* both was
the idea of the Kingdom of God to which only righteousness
admitted, though their righteousness rested on a strict
observance of the minutiae of the law; that required by
Him consisted in change of heart. On the subjects, too,
of the resurrection of the body and of future retribution,
Christ took the side of the Pharisees as against the Sad-
ducees 1 . But the development of the law by the Scribes
had consummated in a one-sided and narrowly intellectual
conception of it which met with His strongest opposition 2 .
He is distinguished from them above all by the spirituality
of his idea of that Messianic Kingdom which it was His
mission to found. And the uncompromising and even bitter
antagonism with which He regarded them may perhaps
be accounted for by the fact, that, having the idea before
them, they or their leaders failed to recognise it in its true
spiritual nature, obscuring both the Kingdom and its law
— the one by their material conceptions, the other by their
' traditions/ the interpretations of the Halacha and Midrash.
The old prophetic enthusiasm was no longer theirs ; they
were without the official rank that gave dignity to the
Sadducees ; and they strove to atone for the want of these
by making use of their position as interpreters of the
1 Keim, Gesch. Christus, pp. 20, 72.
a Matth. xi. 25 ff. : cf. Wellhausen, pp. 16, 21.
14 MEANING OF THE TERM
law. But in the minute regulations they devised, and the
strict observances they enjoined, they so entirely missed
its spirit as to encourage an inconsistency between outward
conduct and spring of action, — the 'hypocrisy' which has
become associated with the name of Pharisee.
Christianity thus grew up in an atmosphere charged
mainly with Pharisaism, but interspersed with cross-currents
of Sadducean indifferentism, and Essene ascetic mysticism,
as well as of fanatic patriotism from the party of Judas
Galilaeus, the founder of the so-called ' fourth sect ' among
In attempting to trace the relation which Jewish Chris-
tians bore to Judaism, it will be well to state clearly at the
outset the sense in which the word 'Jewish Christians ' is
used. The natural signification of the term would seem to
be Christians who were born Jews or who, before becoming
Christians, had, as Proselytes of Eighteousness, undergone
the conditions and been admitted to the full privileges of
Judaism. But in the ordinary theological use of the name,
introduced mainly through the influence of the Tubingen
school, it denotes a distinct party or sect of Christians,
according to whom Christianity was conditioned by, or was
indeed a mere supplement to, the national ideas and legal
observances of Judaism. That the early Church was entirely
Jewish Christian in the former meaning of the term is a
simple matter of fact ; that it was Jewish Christian in the
latter signification is one of the chief theses of Baur and
Hence it seems to me unfairly to prejudice the questions
under discussion if we start with the more special definjtion
of 'Jewish Christian.' Besides, some name is required for
those Christians — at first the whole number but afterwards
'JEWISH christian/ 15
a gradually decreasing proportion — who were either Jews by
birth or who had been admitted such after circumcision,
baptism and a sin-offering 1 . It will indeed be found advis-
able to restrict the meaning of the term in the sequel; but it
is not necessary before starting to give a name to a definite
view of Christianity which has not yet been met with and
which may turn out to have arisen by slow degrees. If the
meaning of the term 'Jewish Christian ' becomes changed and
specialized in the sequel from denoting Christians who had
first been Jews to designate those who tried to continue Jews
after becoming Christians, and to have all others enter the
Church through the same gate of Judaism as they had done,
the alteration will but correspond to the change of parties
within the Church in relation to one another and in relation
to their surroundings. At first the question was one of the
relation of 'Jewish Christians' (i.e. Christians born Jews) to
the Gentile converts on the one hand, and to the Judaism
in which they had been brought up, and with which they had
not expressly broken, on the other. Afterwards, when the
rights of the Gentile converts had been vindicated, and for
St Paul and many others there was neither Jew nor Gentile
in Christ Jesus, the question became one of the relation of
'Jewish Christians ' (i.e. Jewish Christians in the former sense
who sought to retain their Judaism) to the rest of the Church
(whether admitted by Jewish or Gentile gate) on the one
hand, and, on the other, to the creed and constitution of
that Judaism from which they were unwilling to separate
themselves. These different phases of the question corre-
spond broadly in time to the apostolic and post-apostolic
ages respectively. And the division between the two periods
1 The ceremonies of admission to Proselytism of Bighteousness ; cf.
Graetz, iv. 110 ; Ferdinand Weber, System der altsynagogalen palastinischen
Theologie (1880), p. 75.
16 TWO PERIODS.
agrees pretty exactly with the date of the destruction of the
Temple and dispersion of the Jews 1 , events which formed a
crisis in the history of Christianity as well as of Judaism.
The following discussion thus falls naturally into two parts —
the apostolic and the post- apostolic age, or that before and
that after the destruction of the Temple — both because the
relation between Jewish Christians and Judaism assumed
different aspects during these two periods and because the
authorities on which we have to rely in tracing that rela-
tion are different.
1 The martyrdom of Paul and (?) Peter took place in 67, that of James
the Just in 69 ; the Temple was destroyed in 70 a.d.
THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
We have here to depend almost entirely on the sources
of information supplied from the Christian side. For the
Jewish writers of the time — Philo and Josephus — pass over
Christianity with a remarkable silence; while, for this whole
period, the Talmud gives no account of the new phenomenon
which had appeared on the scene of Jewish life 1 . Our know-
ledge of this part of the subject is thus derived, first, from
the professedly historical records, the four Gospels and the
Acts of the Apostles; secondly, from the Apostolic Epistles
and the Revelation of St John, so far as they expressly deal
with or unconsciously exhibit the relation of the early Chris-
tians to Judaism; and, thirdly, from any later accounts of the
state of parties or customs of the time 2 .
To the last class of authorities but little importance can
be attached. They are valuable as unintentionally portray-
ing the age in which they were written, rather than for any
accurate information they give as to that they take in hand
to describe. Destitute of the historic sense, their authors can
be trusted only when confirmed by older writers, and then
they are not needed.
1 M. Joel, Bliche in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang dee zweiten chrisU
lichen Jahrhunderts (1880), pp. ii., 29.
2 Cf. Eitschl, Alt-kath. Kirche, 2nd ed., p. 108.
S. H. E. 2
18 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
One of the best examples of this class of testimonies
is the well-known account of James the 'Lord's brother'
given by Hegesippus and preserved by Eusebius 1 . In this
account characteristics predominantly Essene in their nature
are, with great detail, ascribed to James the Just 2 ; and,
from this, large inferences have been made as to the practices
of the early Church. It is well to remark, however, that
even were the account to be entirely depended upon, it
would only be the description of the idiosyncracies of an
individual, not of the customs of a community. For the
assertion of Graetz 8 that in these alleged peculiarities James
was the model of the early Church is altogether without
foundation in fact. But the story itself is unworthy of
credit. For it contains traits altogether inconsistent with
the customs of the Essenes (fiakaveico ovrc i^p7]craro) as
described by Josephus 4 , as well as with what we otherwise
know of James (eXcuov ovk tfXeityaTo) from the Epistle
bearing his name 5 , which has at least as good claims to
be received as genuine as the account of Hegesippus has
to be regarded as authentic. And from one sentence at
any rate — tovtcq fiovw e%f}v eh ra ayia elcrUvai — we can
easily see how untrustworthy the whole account is. For
the Temple was open not only to James, but to the apostles
and to all the Jews. Nor can the story be defended by
supposing that it was the inner sanctuary — the wyta cuyicov — ,
1 H. E. ii. 23.
2 One of these characteristics — the abstinence from animal food — is also
recorded of St Matthew, but by an even later authority, Clem. Alex. ; cf.
Ritschl, p. 224.
3 Gesch. d. Juden, in. 250.
4 'AttoXoiWtcu to (TW/ua \pvxpoh vScuri, Jos. B. J. n. 8, § 5. Schwegler (Das
nachapostolische Zeitalter, i. 141), can only defend the above passage of the
description by saying that James avoided all effeminacy.
5 v. 14 : d\d\pavT€s avrbv iXaly ev r<p 6vofj.ai.Ti rod Kvptov. What James
recommended to others could hardly have been abhorrent to himself.
not merely the Temple, that was meant. For James was
not of priestly race and thus could not have had either the
exclusive entry or the entry at all into the holy of holies.
The passage is only explicable on the supposition, either that
when it was written James had already come to be regarded
as having been high-priest 1 , or that the Christians of the
time and party from which the story emanated, were ex-
cluded from the national worship and thus came to fable it
of James that he alone (of their sect) had been admitted
to the Temple. In either case the historic back-ground of
the picture shews it to have originated in the post-apostolic,
not in the apostolic age.
Hegesippus, who flourished about the middle of the
second century, is supposed by many critics to have be-
longed to the Ebionite party, and, whether this be the case
or not, the description of James contained in his work is
probably an Ebionite tradition, the author of which would
no doubt be anxious to gain countenance for the customs of
his sect by representing them as having been practised by
James the Lord's brother who presided at the Council of
Jerusalem mentioned in Acts xv., and who had already come
to be looked upon at the time when Hegesippus wrote, or
shortly afterwards, as having been, after the ascension of
Christ, duly appointed by apostolic vote "Bishop of Jeru-
salem 2 ." Just in the same way the pseudo-Clementine
Homilies and Recognitions favour us with a description of
Peter, different indeed in its details from the above, but
springing from a similar motive and about as trustworthy.
1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haereses, Haer. 78, §§ 13, 14.
2 Heges. in Ens. H. E. n. 23: *ea& X arat rfy iKkKrptar fierd, rw airo-
(ttoXujv 6 d8e\<pos tov Kvplov 'IaKWjSos* cf. Clem. Alex, in Eus. H. E., u. 1.
The above against Schwegler (Nachap. Zeitalter, i. 23), who says there is no
ground for regarding the story of Hegesippus as fictitious.
20 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
For the materials of our investigation we are thus forced
to fall back on the New Testament writings. These may
be divided into two classes: (1) the professedly historical
documents, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles ; and
(2) the other writings, including the Revelation of St John
and the Epistles, the object of which is for the most part
hortatory or doctrinal rather than narrative, though they
contain historical information often only more valuable
because recorded incidentally.
(1) The Acts might naturally be supposed to be the
chief source of information for the history of the apostolic
age ; but unfortunately it is round that document that the
chief difficulties of the investigation circle. As already
stated at the outset, Baur's theory — by which this discussion
is necessarily conditioned throughout — is an attempted re-
construction not only of the history of Christianity but of the
Christian records, and its history of the period is founded
on its criticism of these records. Now from his critical
examination of the various New Testament writings, Baur
thinks himself justified in concluding that the professedly
historical works are not, in the proper sense of the term,
histories at all, but writings in which words that were never
spoken and actions that never happened are attributed to
historical personages for the purpose of lending support to
the views held by the author or the party to which he
belonged. In the euphemistic language of German criti-
cism they are Tendenzschriften, — all of them either taking
a side in the conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christians
or else aiming at a compromise between the contending
parties. Thus the Gospel of Matthew is a ' Jewish Christian'
document in which Christ is represented as coming to
enforce and fulfil the law, that of Luke is a ' Gentile Chris-
tian' production according to which His mission was to
annul and abolish it, while the Gospel of Mark, relying
upon both, acts as a mediator between them. The Fourth
or Johannine Gospel, again, is the product of a time when
the transition is being made to the Catholic Church 1 , and in
it the breach with Judaism is regarded as complete and even
Paulinism is transcended 2 .
But most of all have the Tubingen school subjected the
Acts of the Apostles to a searching examination. And the
works of Zeller and Schneckenburger are an evidence of
the fact that they look upon its correct interpretation as
the key to the whole history of primitive Christianity. It
need hardly be said that they find it ruled by the old oppo-
sition of Paulinism and Petrinism, while its 'purpose' or
'tendency* is to bring the opposing parties together by
means of a thorough-going manipulation, or rather distor-
tion, of the whole history of the early Church, in which
the words of Paul are put into the mouth of Peter, and
actions which could have been performed only by the latter
are attributed to the former — in which Paul is in many
respects Petrinized and Peter systematically Paulinized.
If the Acts were written with this mediating tendency
and unhistorical throughout, it seems to me inexplicable
how, at the time when it appeared, it could have escaped
criticism on that point from the Ebionites or extreme
' Jewish Christian ' party who refused all compromise with
the Gentile Christians. Yet so far were they from suspect-
ing the authenticity or historical accuracy of this work,
that Irenaeus, writing about 180 A.D., could charge them
with inconsistency for disparaging the authority of St Paul
without rejecting the testimony of St Luke in the Acts
1 Baur, Kirchengeschiclite der drei ersten Jahrhunderte, 3rd ed., p. 147.
2 Baur, A'. G., pp. 170 f.
22 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
according to which he was declared by God to be chosen to
bear His name to the Gentiles 1 .
Baur's theory of the untrust worthiness of the Acts is
founded mainly on the alleged discrepancies between it
and the historical details of Galatians i. and ii.; but though,
I suppose, no competent critic will deny that the mutual
relation of the two narratives raises points of very great
difficulty, yet it would appear that if one theory of this
relation is psychologically impossible it is the extreme
view of the Acts adopted by the Tubingen school. Nor
is this a question depending on the date at which that
work may have been written. For the earlier its origin
the greater number of persons would there be still alive
who had taken part in, or at least had had accurate informa-
tion from actors and eye-witnesses of, the real facts of the
apostles' history, and the less likely would the author have
been to fabricate a story whose falsehood could have been
so easily detected and would infallibly have been exposed;
while, on the other hand, the later its origin, the more
public and widely known must the Epistle to the Galatians
have become, and the more inconceivable is it that the
author of the Acts should have deliberately and unne-
cessarily run counter (as, on Baur's reading of the document,
he does on several occasions run counter both deliberately
and unnecessarily) not only to apostolic authority, but to the
evidence of one who had taken a leading part in the events
At the same time, in the present state of critical opinion
both as to the Acts and as to the Gospels, it is necessary
1 Adv. Haer.j in. 15, § 1. This is not inconsistent with the information
we owe to Eusebius (H. E. in. 27) and others that the only authoritative
Scripture of the Ebionites was the Gospel of the Hebrews. The Ebionites
did not look on the Acts as authoritative, but they do not seem to have sus-
pected its historical character.
that the evidence drawn from them should not be indis-
criminately mixed up with the testimony of writings whose
genuineness and authenticity is universally acknowledged.
It is true that, for a complete and ultimate discussion of
the question, a critical examination of the authorities must
first be carried through. But it is evident that such an
inquiry, extending as it does over the whole field of New
Testament Introduction, would be impossible here. And,
if this essay has any value at all, it will be because it does
not take postulates for granted which no opponent is likely
to admit, but tries to reach its conclusions by starting
from common ground and working along lines of argument
the validity of which will not be denied.
(2) No critic, however bold, has attacked the genuine-
ness of the leading Epistles of the New Testament Canon,
and in relying upon them we are thus on safe ground.
The four 'universally received' Epistles of St Paul —
Galatians, First 1 and Second Corinthians, and Eomans —
would themselves enable us almost to reconstruct the history
of Apostolic Christianity and the system of Christian doc-
trine, were the rest of the Canon lost. The Epistle to
the Philippians, too, though rejected by Baur on account
of its pronounced expressions on the divinity of Christ, is
now generally admitted as the work of St Paul, while the
tendency of recent criticism is to bring within the cate-
gory of genuine writings other Epistles which bear his
name. Thus Hilgenfeld, who is perhaps the most prominent
living representative of Baur's critical school, accepts not
only Philippians, but also First Thessalonians and the
i Graetz's rejection of 1 Cor. (Gesch. d. Juden. iv. 80 n.), founded as it is
on a fanciful interpretation of a single phrase, has not found favour with
critics. Besides, 1 Maccab. i. 15 shows that the practice referred to by Graetz
was known long before the post -apostolic age.
24 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
Epistle to Philemon. The Epistle to the Hebrews, though
not by Paul himself, was undoubtedly composed within a
few years after his death. And according to Ritschl, who,
in the second edition of his work on the ' Old Catholic
Church/ frankly relinquished the Tubingen standpoint he
had previously occupied, both the Epistle of James and the
First Epistle of Peter can successfully vindicate their claim
to apostolic authorship. These Epistles are of importance
here as coming from the pens of the two disciples who stood,
along with John, at the head of the early Church in Jeru-
salem. To the above writings we must add the Revelation
of St John, which, written long before the Epistles and
Gospel ascribed to him, is regarded by Baur as proving the
Ebionite character and tendency of the primitive Christian
community, and has thus great prominence given to it by him.
The works which will be chiefly drawn upon in the
sequel are — for the above reason — those which all critics,
whatever their theological leanings may be, are agreed in
The above discussion of authorities — tedious as I am
afraid it may appear — will not have been misplaced if it has
succeeded in obviating some preliminary difficulties and has
made the way clear for exhibiting the points of relation
between the Jewish Christians of the apostolic age and
The development of this relation may be traced through
three stages : 1°, There is the original element of difference
which distinguished the first disciples from other Jews and
in virtue of which they were Christians — an element not at
first recognized by them in all its bearings and in its far-
reaching implications, but which ultimately and necessarily
broke through the outer web of external circumstance and
THREEFOLD ATTITUDE TO JUDAISM. 2d
traditional custom by which it was enveloped. 2°, There is
this network of legal observances, adhered to by Jewish
Christians equally with Jews, even when they saw how
utterly it was bereft of significance by the new law of
liberty they had come under, while it was regarded by the
extreme party (by the 'Jewish Christians ' in the sense of
Baur) as essential to Christian communion. 3°, There is the
process by which the new element introduced by Christianity
and differentiating its adherents from unbelieving Jews
separated itself from the ritual and customs of Judaism in
the midst of which it had originated, and through conflict
with these and schism within the Church itself, constructed
an organization of its own which confirmed its separation
from the parent stem.
These three stages do not of course follow one another in
strict chronological sequence. The first and second are,
indeed, naturally co-incident in time, while symptoms of the
third stage, in which the two previous tendencies come into
collision, begin to appear very early in the Church's history.
They are rather elements which were never entirely separated
in reality, though, by keeping them distinct in thought, we
may gain a clearer view of the process by which the fulfilled
Messianic idea perfected Judaism and annulled it, while
those who had no eyes for this spiritual dialectic, but tried
to remain both Jews and Christians, succeeded only, as
Jerome says, in being neither Jews nor Christians.
1. It is hardly necessary to state that it was the recog-
nition of Jesus as the Messiah that distinguished the believ-
ing disciples from their unbelieving fellow-countrymen. " Had
no new development taken place," says Baur 1 , the only differ-
ence between them "would have been that the former
regarded the Messiah as having come already, the latter
* K. G., p. 40.
26 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
looked on Him as still to come." And, could the belief in
the Messiahship of Jesus be regarded as a mere abstract
formula, this statement would be both accurate and complete.
But one cannot help feeling it as a want in Baur's profound
and suggestive treatises on early Christianity that the per-
sonal influence of the Founder over the thought and lives of
his followers is not sufficiently acknowledged, or, rather, that
the acknowledgment of it has not its full sweep allowed it in
the development of the history. "How soon," exclaims
Baur himself 1 , " must all the true and weighty precepts of
Christianity have been numbered with the faint echoes of
words spoken by many a friend of humanity and philosophic
sage of ancient times had not its doctrines been made words
of eternal life in the mouth of its Founder." And again :
"Had not the Messianic idea, the idea in which Jewish
national hopes had their profoundest expression, fixed itself
on the person of Jesus, and caused him to be regarded as the
Messiah who had come for the redemption of His people,
and in whom the promise to the fathers was fulfilled, the
belief in Him could never have had a power of such far-
reaching influence in history. It was in the Messianic idea
that the spiritual contents of Christianity were clothed on
with the concrete form in which it could enter on the path
of historical development V Two elements were thus neces-
sary : the Jewish Messianic idea, and the personal character
and influence of Christ. But all the evidence goes to show
that He elevated and spiritualized it, rather than that it
exercised a " cramping and narrowing " influence upon Him.
We must remember too, that however much this idea may
have been materialized and degraded during recent times
when the independence of the state and revenge on the
1 K. <?., p. 36. The translation is from the version edited by Mr Menzies.
3 Ibid., p. 47.
BELIEF IN THE MESSIAH. 27
Romans were the highest thoughts and thus the Messianic
idea of the leaders of the people, it had had a more spiritual
meaning and a wider application in the golden days of
It is not contended that in the early Church there was
a uniformly lofty Messianic idea. The gospel histories shew
plainly enough how deeply the original apostles were imbued
with the narrower conception of their time; but they also
shew how persistently Jesus sought to widen and elevate it.
But a decisive shock to the belief of many in the Messiahship
of Jesus must have been given by the events which brought
His earthly career to a close. A crucified Messiah was a
stumbling-block to the Jews: a dead Messiah an impossi-
bility. The disciples must either relinquish their belief in
Jesus as the Messiah or they must also believe that in His
own person He had conquered death. Even if they had
seen nothing in Him before but the characteristics of a
Hebrew prophet, those who remained faithful must acknow-
ledge a unique virtue in the risen Christ. Thus it came
about that the Messianic idea of the followers of Jesus had a
real fulfilment, whereas that of the other Jews was a barren
expectation, as well as a breadth of moral and spiritual
content and a capacity for development which forced those
who possessed it — or, rather, those who were possessed by it —
far beyond Judaism.
This higher idea of Christ was not, of course, the expressed
conviction of all his disciples, but it was implied in the Chris-
tian profession of the time, though there were no doubt
various degrees in the measure of clearness with which it was
recognized. No Jew could now be a Christian without
believing in the resurrection of Jesus, and thus implicitly
accepting all that that belief involved. It is true that the
early disciples, even the apostles, may have expected a speedy
28 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
return of the Lord from heaven and His assumption of tem-
poral sway, but even the writings which go to prove that
they did so are far beyond the standpoint of the Ebionitism
which denied the supernatural and divine character of Christ.
The Apocalypse is one of the five New Testament writings
accepted by Baur as genuine, and is regarded by him as
occupying Ebionite ground. Yet that document lends no
support to either of the two characteristic Ebionite views.
For, on the one hand, it contains no word asserting the con-
tinued binding force of the law, while, on the other hand, it
recognizes in the most distinct terms both the divine per-
sonality and the peculiar functions of Christ. He is there
spoken of as 'the first and the last/ who is 'alive for evermore'
(i. 17, 18), and who is worshipped by the four and twenty
elders (v. 14). In many other passages He is directly asso-
ciated with God; the great company of the redeemed cry
'salvation to our God which sitteth on the throne and unto
the Lamb' (vii. 10); we read of those 'that keep the com-
mandments of God and the faith of Jesus' (xiv. 12), and of
those who 'shall be priests of God and of Christ' (xx. 6). He
is further called the 'Lord of lords and King of kings' (xvii.
14; xix. 16). He is the apyrj tt)? KTicrem rod 6eov (iii. 14), and
even, in words which are sometimes regarded as having been
introduced into Christian literature by the Fourth Gospel,
as 6 X0709 tov deov (xix. 13). That these are not mere titles
affixed externally to Christ's person, as Baur somewhat per-
versely maintains 1 , is shewn by the remarkable utterances as
to His functions by which they are accompanied. He is the
judge who sitteth on the white cloud 'having on his head a
golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle' (xiv. 14), and
who has 'the keys of death and of Hades' (i. 18). Still more
remarkable is the significance attributed to the death of the
1 K. G., pp. 316 f.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE BELIEF. 29
'Lamb... as though it had been slain' (v. 6). It is 'because
of the blood of the Lamb' that the brethren 'overcame... the
accuser* (xii. 11); and He is addressed as having 'loosed us
from our sins by his blood ' (i. 5; cf. v. 9, vii. 14). This is
not the language of a leader of the Ebionites as Baur and
Graetz maintain the Apostle John to have been 1 .
It seems scarcely necessary to prove that similar views of
Christ's person and work are held by St Paul. Yet Baur
rejects the Epistle to the Philippians on account of its explicit
teaching on the divinity of Christ. The same reason should
have induced him to set all historical evidence at defiance
and get rid of the four admitted Epistles as well. For in
them Christ is regarded as 'the Son of God 2 ,' 'the Lord of
glory 8 .' He is also conceived as at once the Judge of the
world — 'we must all be made manifest before the judgment-
seat of Christ 4 ' — and the Redeemer who 'redeemed us from
the curse of the law, having become a curse for us 5 / who
'hath been sacrificed' as 'our passover 6 ,' and in whom 'God
was..., reconciling the world unto himself 7 .'
The same conception of Christ as the paschal lamb which
is found in St John and St Paul meets us also in the First
Epistle of St Peter 8 , who, along with John and James the
Lord's brother, stood at the head of the early Church in
Jerusalem; while, in their Epistles, both Peter and James
seem to have passed beyond the stage in which observance of
the Mosaic law was still looked upon as essential 9 : circum-
1 Cf. Graetz, in. 250 : * Neben ihm [Jakobus dem Frommen] standen der
ersten ebionitischen Gemeinde vor : Simon Kephas oder Petrus ben Jonas
und Johannes b. Zebedai.'
2 Eom. i. 3, 4. 3 1 Cor. ii. 8.
* 2 Cor. v. 10 ; cf . Eom. xiv. 10.
s Gal. iii. 13. 6 1 Cor. v. 7. 7 2 Cor. v. 19.
8 i. 18 f. : Et'Sores oTi...i\vTp&07)Te...TifJLl<j) dtfian ws dfivov dpLW/Mov nal
,J Cf. Eitscbl, pp. 115, 119.
30 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
cision and Sabbath and feast-day are no longer regarded as
requiring even mention.
Ideas such as the above are both far beyond the current
Judaism of the day and far in advance of the conceptions
of the so-called 'Jewish Christians' who sought to retain
the Jewish standpoint along with a belief of some kind in
Christ. The Ebionites held Christ to have been a mere
man; not only Paul, but also the < pillar-apostles 1 / ascribed
to Him divine attributes. The former maintained that He
had come to ratify and re-enact the law; the latter, in
regarding Him as the paschal lamb slain for the sins of the
world, held that He had fulfilled and abrogated it, introduc-
ing a new covenant in its stead 2 .
"If," says Schwegler 3 , "Christianity was looked upon
simply as the continuation and last stage of the Old Testa-
ment Judaism, it follows that the person of Christ was
placed only in the order and line of the Old Testament
prophets." But since we have seen that the person of
Christ was placed outside and above that order and line,
we have on Schwegler's own premiss a right to conclude
that, if Christianity is to be regarded as the last stage
of Judaism, it was a last stage in which the whole previous
history was summed up and transcended.
The documents from which the proof of these allegations
has been drawn, belong, however, to the close of the apos-
tolic age, and the doctrinal positions so clearly stated then
were not necessarily present to the authors throughout the
period, and were no doubt matured by the experiences they
passed through. How far they underwent a process of
development will, to some extent, appear when we come to
consider the story of the conflict in which the new idea and
1 01 doKovvres ctvXol ehcu, Gal. ii. 9.
2 Cf. Kitschl, p. 122. 3 ^fachap. Zeitalter, i. 100.
ITS HISTORICAL CONSEQUENCES. 31
old customs came into collision. But we may see in the
early preaching of the resurrection and its historical con-
sequences how from the first the original apostles were
differentiated from the Jews.
(1) For, in the first place, the new creed had a mission-
ary and aggressive character 1 . I am not speaking at present
of the extent of these missionary operations of the primitive
Church. But the very fact that the early apostles attempted
in season and out of season to make converts marked them
out as peculiar among Jewish sects. The Essenes lived by
themselves ; the Sadducees held aloof from the people ; the
Pharisees, secure in the adherence of the great body of the
nation, appear not to have interfered much with the other
sects 2 . And the apostles seem to have acted in defiance
of all Jewish etiquette when ' every day, in the temple and
at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as
(2) The natural consequence followed : the early Chris-
tians were persecuted. Sadducees and Pharisees joined in
an attempt to crush these new religionists who thus threat-
ened 'to turn the world upside downV Though this is both
presupposed and asserted in the writings of St Paul, the
direct evidence for the particular instances of persecution is,
of course, taken from the Acts. But it is scarcely conceiv-
able how even one who like Graetz denies its historical
character, should assert that the relation between Jewish
Christians and Jews was one of mutual toleration 5 .
1 Acts iv. 2, etc.
2 Matth. xxiii. 15 seems to refer to proselytizing those outside Judaism,
though Graetz, Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 109, says its meaning is still obscure.
See, however, ibid, in. 211, 309.
3 Acts v. 42.
4 Acts xvii. 6.
5 Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 88 ; but cf. in. 313.
32 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
It is hardly possible to believe that the coalition of
Sadducees and Pharisees that procured the crucifixion of
Jesus should have allowed His immediate followers openly
to teach His Messiahship. It may, of course, be true that,
after the conflict in the Church which followed the admis-
sion of Gentiles, the extreme Jewish Christian party may
have been viewed with some favour by their unbelieving
brethren ; though, if so, the favour was of very short dura-
tion. But Gentiles were not admitted in any numbers to
the Church till after the persecution that followed the death
of Stephen, and disputed questions as to the terms of their
admission do not seem to have arisen for some years subse-
quently. Nor is it at all likely that this persecution was
aimed only at the Hellenists as Baur asserts 1 . For Paul,
himself a Hellenist, was one of its leaders, and it was by
Hellenists that the prosecution of Stephen, and, at a sub-
sequent period, that of Paul, were initiated 2 . Nor, again,
is Baur's other assertion that Stephen was the first opponent
of Judaism 3 — if so, why did the 'Hebrews' leave it to the
Hellenists to take action against him? — consistent with the
remark he had just made, that he was condemned on the
same grounds as Jesus.
(3) Brought together by their missionary operations and
by the persecutions of hostile fellow-countrymen, the early
Christians thus not only soon came to be looked upon as a
distinct Jewish sect 4 , but had from the first and were forced
to develop an organization of their own, distinct from that
of the Jewish community by which they were surrounded 5 .
Formed on the analogy of the Jewish synagogue and pos-
1 K. G., p. 43. 2 Acts vi< 9> ix> 29.
3 K. G., p. 42-3. 4 Acts xxiv> 5
5 Cf. Eothe, Anfdnge der christlichen Kirche und ihrer Verfassung (1837),
pp. 146 ff. ; and Cunningham's Churches of Asia (1880).
JEWISH CUSTOMS. S3
sessing its democratic constitution, this organization was
yet sufficient both to increase the unity of the Christian
party among themselves, and to signify to the world their
difference from other Jews.
2. But while all this shows us how deeply the Messianic
idea had taken root in the minds of the early disciples, how
naturally and necessarily it led them outside the circle of
Jewish observances, they still maintained their obedience to
the Mosaic law and frequented the Temple worship. Their
belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, which perfected their
national consciousness and transcended it, did not seem to
them to come into conflict with their national customs 1 .
Perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that the early Christians
were Jews first and Christians afterwards in more than the
sequence of their own experience. They did not indeed
value their Christianity less than their Jewish nationality ;
but they had not yet learned even in thought to separate
them. It did not at first occur to them that the Messianic
promise could be fulfilled to those who had never had the
Messianic hope, or that the Gentiles could receive adoption
into the new covenant, without passing into it, as they
themselves had done, through the gateway of the old.
The early Christians had all been admitted by circumci-
sion members of the old covenant, and they still retained the
customs it involved: kept the Sabbath, observed the laws as
to food 2 , and frequented the worship of the Temple 3 — and that
not merely from the opportunities of preaching it afforded 4 .
In the appointment of the seven deacons they followed
a practice usual in every Jewish community 6 , while for the
1 Cf. Baur, Paulus, der Apostel Jem Christi, 2nd ed., i. 49.
2 Acts x. 14. s Actg ii# 46) yj -^ etc
4 Acts xxii. 17, xxiv. 11—12. 5 Graetz, in. 249.
S. H. E. 3
34 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
peculiar institution of community of goods, which certainly
prevailed for a considerable time and to a large extent among
them 1 , they had a precedent in the customs of the Essenes.
Even their sacred rites of baptism and the Lord's Supper
were founded upon Jewish ordinances 2 . But these rites now
obtained a new meaning, and had an organic connection with
the Christian principle, whereas the custom of circumcision,
the laws of food, and the whole ceremonial regulations of the
Mosaic law, had no natural or necessary relation to it, and
thus lost their significance.
3. As long as the Church continued to consist entirely
or almost entirely of Jews, the performance of these regula-
lations would not be felt as an oppressive burden. But when
the Gospel came to be preached to increasing numbers of
Gentiles, the latter would be unable to see why in adopting
the Christian principle they must needs submit themselves
to Jewish customs, and a conflict was bound to ensue. The
Church of Jerusalem had come to no decision beforehand^as
to how this emergency was to be met when it should arise.
Their idea seems to have been that the Jews should first as
a united nation be brought to recognize Jesus as the Messiah,
and that the conversion of the Gentiles should only then be
undertaken 8 . It is true that, according to the Acts, the
older apostles not only preached the Gospel to the Samari-
tans (viii. 5 ff.), but Peter received Cornelius into the Church
(x.), and Philip the Aethiopian Eunuch (viii. 27 ff.), and that
simply by the rite of baptism and without subjecting them to
1 Actsii. 44 f., iv. 32 f.
2 Poverty, it may be well to remark as against Graetz, in. 249, was not
one of their characteristics (cf. Acts iv. 34), though it may have given a name
to the Ebionites.
3 Acts ii. 39 ; Bev. xiv. 4 (application of expression dwapxv ?$ 6e$ /cat r£
apvlt$)\ James i. 18; cf. Bitschl, p. 141.
ORIGIN OF THE CONFLICT. 35
the conditions of the Mosaic law, though both the converts
were mere Proselytes of the Gate (evaeftets). But these
actions are represented as having been undertaken by special
revelation, and, even as it was, excited no little suspicion
amongst, and even opposition from, the strict Jews, oi etc
7T€piTo/jLf}<; (xi. 23). There was, moreover, in their desire to
win over to their faith their non-Christian Jewish brethren, a
strong inducement for the early disciples, not to enter rashly
upon a general proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentile
races 1 .
But what the apostles almost seem to have avoided came
about without their connivance, and without their having the
opportunity of prescribing the conditions under which it
should take place. Amongst those driven from Jerusalem
by the persecution which arose about Stephen were some
'men of Cyprus and Cyrene* — Hellenists therefore — who, on
coming to Antioch, 'spake unto the Greeks 2 also, preaching
the Lord Jesus' with such success that 'a great number that
believed turned unto the Lord/ The importance of this step
can hardly be over-estimated. What for Philip and Peter
had been merely exceptional was thus made a general prin-
ciple of conduct : the Gospel was not merely preached to the
Gentiles — to Gentiles, too, who did not even conform to the
conditions of Proselytism of the Gate, were not even evae-
/3€?<? — , but they were (as the history evidently implies) ad-
mitted into the Church without coming under the Mosaic
law. The novelty of this proceeding excited some attention
at Jerusalem — whether opposition as well does not at first
appear — and the Church sent Barnabas, a Hellenist, to inquire
into the state of affairs. His report was favourable, and no
further action was taken in the matter ; and it was not till
1 Gieseler, K. G. f §28.
2 Acts xi. 20 — reading of course "EXX^as, not 'EXX^urrds (T. E.).
36 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
long afterwards that Paul had to vindicate against 'false
brethren 1 ' a similar liberty before the 'pillar-apostles' at Jeru-
Paul had been brought to Antioch by Barnabas just after
the notable events of which that town had been the scene,
had remained there a year, and, after a short visit to Jerusa-
lem, had along with Barnabas undertaken his first missionary
journey. It was on that journey, after repeated rebuffs from
the Jews, that they openly announced their intention 2 of
turning from them to what Paul regarded as his special
mission 3 — the preaching to the Gentiles.
Between this decisive step on the part of Paul and the
events related in Acts xv. and Galatians ii. a considerable
interval elapsed 4 sufficient to allow the party in the Church
which had gradually been forming time to take up definite
ground against him.
In considering the events that followed as bearing on the
relation held by the early Christians to Judaism, I shall
restrict myself to the narrative of Paul himself in Gala-
The Epistle to the Galatians, written between 54 and
57 A.D. and recording events which happened only two or
three years before (according to Conybeare and Howson, in
50 A.D.), is the first authentic testimony we have of a party
* Gal. ii. 4.
2 Acts xiii. 46 ; cf. xvii. 6.
* Gal. i. 16.
4 The exact length of time is hard to determine, partly from the difficulty
of saying whether the " fourteen years" of Gal. ii. 1 date from Paul's con-
version or from his first coming to Jerusalem, partly from the Jewish
method of reckoning, which makes " fourteen years" an ambiguous expression.
I assume as proved the identity of the Jerusalem-visit of Gal. ii. with that of
Acts xv. Both these subjects are fully discussed in Conybeare and Howson' s
Life and Epistles of St Paul, App. i. and App. in., Note (B) ; cf. Baur's
Paulus, I. 120 ff.
COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM. 37
in the Church which demanded that all Christians must
conform to the ritual of Judaism — of ' Jewish Christians ' in
the technical sense of the Tubingen school, or, as they are
otherwise called, ' Judaizers.' Baur says that l Jewish Chris-
tianity ' is here for the first time divided into a stricter and a
broader party ; but not only is it the case (as will soon be
shewn) that only one of the parties here deserves the name
of ' Jewish Christian ' in his sense of the term, but * Jewish
Christianity ' itself (in this sense) now for the first time
makes a public appearance. The tendencies which it repre-
sents must no doubt have been all the while present, though
latent, in the Church at Jerusalem ; but that they were not the
prevailing sentiments is shewn not only by their having been
expressed by no one individual whose name is known to
history, but also by the fact that (whether we accept the
testimony of the Acts or not) the admission of Gentiles to
the Church must have been carried on by Paul and his
companions for a considerable time before their proceedings
At the conference at Jerusalem — fraught with such
important consequences for the future that it is usually
spoken of as the first Christian Council — there were, besides
the heads of the Church there (James, Peter and John), two
opposing parties occupying a perfectly intelligible but mu-
tually antagonistic position. There was the 'Jewish Chris-
tian ' or ' Judaizing ' party who contended that the Gentiles
must keep the whole Mosaic law and, as an example and
pledge of this, demanded the circumcision of Titus, a young
Greek convert whom Paul had brought with him. This
initiatory rite always entailed the performance of the remain-
ing conditions of the law, and, without it, — the Jewish
doctors taught 1 — the fulfilment of these is unavailing, for the
1 Ferd. Weber, op. ctt. y p. 66.
38 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
law which brings life to Israel is death to the heathen. In
demanding the circumcision of Titus, therefore, this party
demanded the Judaizing of the Gentile Christian churches
which Paul was so successfully building up. This demand
was not only refused in the most uncompromising manner
by the apostle of the Gentiles, but those who made it were
stigmatized by him as ' false brethren privily brought in who
came in privily to spy out our liberty/ They had evidently
gone up to Antioch to inspect Paul's doings there and had
thus made him determine on his journey to Jerusalem 1 to
explain /car ihlav to the leaders of the Church there (toa9
Sokov<tl) the gospel he preached to the Gentiles. The view
on which he acted was that the Christian principle had made
circumcision and all such ordinances matters of indifference.
But he made no demand for the Church at Jerusalem to
throw off Jewish customs. On the contrary, in an Epistle
written at no great distance of time from this, he says that
to the Jews he himself became a Jew that he might gain the
Jews 2 — a remark which may or may not refer to an occasion
on which, according to Acts xxi. 26, he actually did so, but
which certainly stamps with his approval the conduct of the
congregation at Jerusalem in conforming to Jewish customs
as long as they had the hope of gaining over their brethren.
From some expressions he uses, Paul seems to have been
doubtful as to the course the older apostles would take on
the question at issue. But, on the only point before them,
they decided thoroughly in his favour, being convinced that
the work done by him among the Gentiles had as certain an
evidence of divine approval as the work done by them among
the Jews, that an evayyeXcov t^9 dtcpofivo-Tias had been com-
1 This is of course not inconsistent with his own view that he went up
/card dwoKahvipiv, Gal. ii. 2.
2 1 Cor. ix. 20.
COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM. 39
mitted to him just as the evayy&Xiov rf}$ TrepirofiT]? had been
entrusted to Peter, since the same spirit worked in both 1 .
And it is almost inconceivable how, in the face of this, Baur
should say 2 that Paul's doctrine of freedom from the law
separated him from the * pillar-apostles ' as well as from the
Jews, or should have committed himself to the statement
that if the older apostles agreed with the principles of Paul's
evayyekiov ttjs dfcpoftvoria? it was their duty to turn their
attention henceforth to the conversion of the Gentiles 8 (leav-
ing, I suppose, the Jews to their fate), as if the division of
apostolic fields of labour were inconsistent with unity of
apostolic aim and spirit.
The only condition Paul records as having been exacted
by the older apostles, and one which was cordially accepted
by him, was that the Gentile churches he founded should
not relinquish that custom inherited from Judaism, and
which has never ceased to be distinctive of the Christian
Church — the care of the poor — , and should give proof of
their unity and sympathy with the Palestinian Jews by
helping to relieve the distress which famine had caused
among the poorer brethren of Judaea.
According, however, to the account given in Acts xv., a
formal decree was issued on the occasion ratifying the Chris-
tian liberty of the Gentile churches but also requiring their
abstinence from certain Gentile customs which were particu-
larly obnoxious to Jews, and which had probably been made
the subject of special complaint by the Judaizers, the condi-
tions enjoined being, perhaps, though the point is not quite
clear, the same as those exacted from Proselytes of the Gate.
It is not my intention to enter into the controversies
which surround this decree, for it is of importance in tracing
1 Gal. ii. 7, & 2 Paulus, i. 223.
3 Paulus, i. 144.
40 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
the relation of the Jewish to the Gentile Christians rather
than that of the Jewish Christians to Judaism 1 . But
although St Paul makes no express mention of it in his
Epistles, his subsequent conduct seems to imply that an edict
of the kind had been issued for the temporary guidance of
the Gentile Christians in relation to their Jewish brethren 2 .
Undiscouraged by defeat, the ' Judaizers' did not relin-
quish their contention on account of what had happened at
Jerusalem. Shortly after the events already recorded Peter
seems to have followed Paul to Antioch probably with the
intention of giving, by his personal presence among them,
the sanction of the older apostles to the Gentile Christian
community at that centre. At any rate we find him there
taking part in the full social as well as religious fellowship
which, no doubt through Paul's influence, had been estab-
lished between the Jewish and Gentile members of the
Church. Peter thus fell in with their new customs, till
* certain came from James ' and, in the interests of so-called
'Jewish Christianity,' succeeded in causing an unseemly
quarrel in the Church.
It is doubtful whether these Jews were sent to Antioch
by James ; but even if they were, there seems no reason for
supposing that they were commissioned by him to play the
part they did 8 . We do not know what arguments they made
use of when they appeared at Antioch ; but we may well
believe that they did not now insist explicitly, as they had
but recently insisted, on the Judaizing of the Gentile
1 For the same reason no attempt is made here to discuss the questions
raised as to the relation of Acts xv. to Gal. ii. To do so would lead into
controversies almost interminable, and for all the purposes of this essay the
narrative of Paul himself in the Galatians is sufficiently full.
2 Cf. Eitschl, pp. 137 f.
3 So Baur himself in his early essay on the ' Christuspartei,' Tub. Zeits.,
1831, iv. p. 114.
SCHISM AT ANTIOCH. 41
Christians. They would, probably, rather take up the plea
of following out literally the decision of the Council of
Jerusalem, and assert that it was specially incumbent on
Peter as the representative of the evayye\iov rfjs irepiTOfir}?
to maintain the Jewish customs and refuse to sit at table
with the Gentiles, and that all who were of Jewish birth
should do the same. It is obvious, however, that, although
Peter may have advanced beyond the regulations of the decree,
he had acted fully in accordance with the spirit of a resolution
which relegated Jewish customs to the class of things non-
essential. But, with a weakness which cannot be said to be
inconsistent with what we otherwise know of him, he yielded
to the pressure and followed the intolerant example of the
Judaizers, who led astray the other Christian Jews and even
the Hellenist Barnabas 'by their dissimulation (vTrotcptan,?) 1 .'
It was then that Paul 'withstood Peter to the face* (ii. 11) :
the apostle of the d/cpofivo-Tia came into conflict with the
apostle of the irepLTOfjur}. The tragic interest of this episode
in which, not thirty years after its first promulgation, the
two leaders of the religion of peace and brotherly love are
seen face to face in open 2 feud, has naturally attached to it a
1 Gal. ii. 13. It is not necessary here to discuss the quarrel mentioned
in Acts xv. 37, 38 between Paul and Barnabas, because the latter * determined
to take with them John whose surname was Mark,' whereas * Paul thought
not good to take him with them who departed from them from Pamphylia '
(cf. Acts xiii. 13). Dr John Lightfoot supposes that the defection of Mark
was due to the fact that, as a follower of Peter, he " liked not what these
ministers of the uncircumcision did among the Gentiles" (Exer citations upon
the First Ep. to the Cor., i. 12— Works, xn. 457, ed. of 1822—5). This is an
interesting suggestion not only as obviating Baur's objection to the cause
of the quarrel given in Acts xv. 37, 38, but as showing that the importance of
the distinction between the two parties in the Church could be recognized by
one who wrote more than a century and a half before the way had been paved
for the Tubingen theory by modern critical methods and the Hegelian
a "E/j-wpoffdep irdvTiav, Gal. ii. 14.
42 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
greater significance than its theological importance merits.
Even in the early Corinthian Church we read of a Paul-
party and a Peter-party, while amongst some modern critics
Paulinism and Petrinism almost become the names of different
religions. Perhaps this exaggeration is inevitable, but it
is certainly an exaggeration. Not that the question at issue
was a small one; far from it. But at the same time its
importance does not seem to have been nearly so great as
that of the point settled at Jerusalem. Nor did Peter's
weakness now mean the retractation of the decision he had
given them. His action on this occasion is regarded by Paul
himself as one simply of cowardly inconsistency between his
conduct and the principle he had adopted; while a full
identity of doctrinal position between the two apostles is
assumed in the argumentative verses that follow his account
of the dispute (ii. 16—21).
Besides, the most noticeable fact in the story is not that
Peter withdrew from the table at which the Gentiles sat, but
that he went to it at all 1 — a point which Baur passes over.
For, in so doing, he showed that in his eyes the' meaning of
the decision given at Jerusalem was not simply that Jewish
and Gentile Christians "agree each to go their own way
independent of the otherV , but that it contained the
acknowledgment that their common Christianity was a more
fundamental principle and closer bond of union than the
exclusive customs which bound Jew to Jew, and that, when
the two came into collision, the latter should give way to the
former. It was for unfaithfulness to this testimony — a testi-
mony, however, which, once given, could not be revoked by
1 The agreement of his conduct in so doing with what he is recorded to
have said Acts xv. 7 — 9 deserves notice.
2 Baur, K. G., p. 51.
RESULT OF THE CONFLICT. 43
mere inconsistency — that Peter incurred the stern censure of
his brother apostle.
The terms in which the censure was conveyed have been
differently understood. " If thou/' said Paul, " being a Jew,
livest as a Gentile, and not as a Jew (iOvitca)? £#<? zeal oiic
'lovhaiicm), why forcest thou the Gentiles to Judaize"
ClovSatZeiv) 1 ? But though our imperfect information makes
it difficult or impossible to tell to what the reference may be,
the plain reading of the words seems to imply that Peter as
well as Paul had departed from the strict observances of
Jewish ritual in more than this matter of social intercourse
with the Gentiles from which he was now drawing back. We
further learn from the passage that Paul clearly saw that
the consequence and tendency of Peter's behaviour, if un-
checked, would have been not the mere social separation of
Jewish from Gentile Christians, but the attempt to exact
from the latter the observance of the whole Jewish law.
The immediate upshot of this controversy is unknown,
and the subsequent career of the Jewish Christian party
during the apostolic age has to be made out from the
slightest hints. It is evident, however, from what has been
already said, that the older apostles did not agree with the
demands of the extreme party — representatives of which
were to be met with in the Jewish Christian communities of
Asia Minor, Greece and Rome as well as in Palestine, In
refusing to have communion with or to acknowledge as
Christian brethren the Gentile Christians who would not
keep the law, this party was driven into bitter antagonism
to St Paul who had to defend his very apostleship against
attack 2 . That in this conflict the Judaizers were altogether
separated from the sympathies of the older apostles is
suggested by the previous narrative and is proved by the
1 Gal. ii. U. 2 1 Cor. ix. Iff.
44 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
manner of St Paul's defence. For, while those who led the
Corinthians astray are denounced by him as false apostles *
and false brethren, the original apostles are merely spoken
of as if they had been over-rated — virepXiav arrroaToKoi
he calls them 2 — by being placed above himself who also
held his commission direct from the Lord.
The new faith professed by the apostles had to vin-
dicate its position as the historical representative of the
religion of Israel. It must find in itself an explanation of,
if it did not continue, the prophetic, the legal, and the
priestly orders. And these different parts of the Old Tes-
tament doctrine are brought into prominence by different
writers in the New. Thus it has been said that for Peter
the fulfilment of prophecy is the fundamental thing in
Judaism ; for James, and, in a different way, for Paul, the
fulfilment of the law; while the author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews looks from the point of view of the priesthood and
the atonement it effected s .
In the earlier and simpler stages of the Old Testament
religion there does not seem to have been any distinction
between these different systems. The prophet Moses was
at the same time both lawgiver and priest, while the
specialization of functions and the growth of a legal and of
a priestly caste were the work of a later time and corre-
1 2 Cor. xi. 13.
2 ' So sind wohl die vwepkiav cnrwrroXoi die Apostel selbst deren Schiiler
und Abgeordnete zu seyn, die ^evdairoaroXoL vorgaben. '— Baur in Tub. Zeits.,
Is31, iv. p. 103. The reference of the v-n-epXiav clttovtoXol to the older
apostles is disputed by Beyschlag (Studien und Kritihen, 1865, n. 227) and
others, while Baur afterwards held, and in this he is followed by the Tubingen
school generally, that not only it but also the ^vdairodroXoL is levelled
3 Weiss, Lehrbuch der biblischen Theologie d. N. T. (1868) § 158
CONSEQUENT ATTITUDE TO JUDAISM. 45
sponded to the needs of a more complex society. A similar
sequence of ideas may perhaps be traced in the young
Christian community. At first Christ is received both as
a 'prophet like unto Moses/ and as the Messiah-king to
whom the later prophetic literature pointed. But it was
only afterwards, under the sharp edge of controversy, that
the attitude of the new religion to the developed Mosaic
law and levitical ritual was brought into prominence. Hence
the conflict of St Paul with the legalism of the Judaizing
Christians ; hence too the endeavour of St James to enforce
the moral content of the Christian 'law of liberty' at
once against the formalism of the Jewish law, and the
antinomian followers of St Paul, to whom liberty meant
licence, and who, knowing no law but the Jewish, thought
that its abrogation meant the dissolution of all moral ties.
Still later, the relation of Christianity to the old
levitical system is dealt with in a document which, steeped
in the ideas of sacrifice and priesthood, has had more in-
fluence on Christian theology than any other New Testa-
ment writing except the Epistle to the Romans. It is true,
as has been already pointed out, that conceptions borrowed
from the levitical order are applied to Christ in the works
of the apostles 1 . But their general point of view is not
the priestly, but the prophetic or the legal; whereas, in
the Hebrews, we meet with an author who looks upon
Judaism as, in its essence, a priestly system in which man
is reconciled to God through sacrifice, and who consciously
sets before himself the question, What is the significance
of this system in the light of the Christian principle ? It
is not necessary to assert, as Geiger so confidently does,
that the author of the Epistle had been a Sadducee. Geiger
says that Pharisaism, which made its influence first felt on
1 Bev. i. 5, v. 9 ; 1 Cor. v. 7 ; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.
46 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
the Christian Church, contributed to it the Messianic idea
and the belief in the resurrection, while Sadducees, in
coming over to the young community subsequently, brought
with them the conception of the Messiah as the High-Priest
who by His own death made atonement for sins. This is,
according to Geiger 1 , the fundamental idea both of the
Hebrews and of the so-called * Testaments of the Twelve
Patriarchs' which will come before us again in the se-
quel. But, in the first place, the belief in the resurrection
and the prominent angelology exhibited by the Hebrews
are difficult to reconcile with the hypothesis of its being of
Sadducean authorship 2 . And further, the argument of the
Epistle — the levitical high -priesthood superseded by an
eternal High-Priest, the daily sacrifice for atonement ren-
dered unnecessary by a world-sacrifice once offered by
Jesus — does not require a Sadducee to have written it.
For a sense of the importance of, and reverence for, the
Temple services were not confined to the Sadducees, who
were only the leaders and official members of a system
which had sunk deep into the national consciousness. And
it is not unnatural to suppose that a pupil of St Paul,
inspired with his masters idea that the law which led to
Christ was of no further value, should apply a similar train
of thought to the great sacrificial system of the Temple,
Following out some such conception as this, the author
looks on the Old Testament ritual as consummated in the
death of Christ ; and it is just here that the interest of his
work for our subject lies. Eiehm sees in the writer's argument
evidence of the fact that " when he received the knowledge
of Christ's work of salvation, he must have been already
convinced of the inefficiency of the Old Testament sacrifice,
1 Jiidische Zeitschrift, vn. (1869), pp. 119 ff.; xi. (1875), p. 16.
2 Cf. Jud. Zeits. vm. 164 f.
CONSEQUENT ATTITUDE TO JUDAISM. 47
and accustomed to a higher consideration of the ceremonies
of Judaism, so as to join on his Christian doctrine to his
pre-Christian views as the last stage of their development 1 ."
The Epistle thus shews how it is of the very essence of the
old ritual that it should be done away with in the perfect
sacrifice of Christ's life and death, and calls upon the
Christian community it addresses to separate itself from
Judaism and follow Christ ' without the camp 2 .' The exact
significance of this striking utterance depends both on the
circumstances of those addressed — , whether or not they were
inhabitants of Jerusalem—, and on the time at which it was
written — whether before or after the destruction of the
Temple. The references the author makes to its services
are thought by some to imply that they were still going
on when he wrote, while others hold that the termination
of the Jewish sacrificial system is presupposed in his point
of view. It would be inconsistent with the plan of this
essay to attempt to decide between these two opinions,
or to discuss the literary questions of the date and desti-
nation of the Epistle. But, whether occasioned by the
threatened dissolution of the national worship or by its
actual fall, the natural interpretation of the passage seems
to be a clear call to the Christians of Jewish birth who still
continued to reverence the ritual of the Temple, as well as
to observe the worship of the Church, to come out and
formally separate themselves from a system which had been
consummated when Jesus was led * without the gate ' to be
But while this was the attitude towards Judaism to
which the catholic thought of the church tended, we have
1 Lehrbegriff des Hebraerbriefes, new ed., 1867, p. 627.
2 xiii. 13 : Toivvv i&pxupcQ* *"pd* avrov ££w ttjs wapeppoXrjs.
48 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
already seen that unanimity of sentiment and conduct did
not exist among its members. The preceding discussion has
brought to light, in the apostolic age, three parties — as, for
want of a better name, they may be called — of Christians who
were born Jews. There were, first, the extreme Jewish Chris-
tians who not only observed the law themselves, but required
that all Christians should do so ; secondly, the original apo-
stles and those who agreed with their position ; and, thirdly,
Paul himself with his adherents throughout the various
churches he founded. He contended not merely for the
freedom of the Gentile Christians from the Jewish law but
also for the liberty of the Jewish born Christians of the same
community to hold fellowship with their Gentile Christian
brethren. His enemies at Jerusalem asserted that he
taught men everywhere against the Jews, their law, and
their temple 1 ; and though, as they put it, this part of the
accusation is no doubt as false as its sequel that he polluted
the Temple by bringing a Greek into it, we can easily see
that in one sense it was perfectly true. Paul's doctrine
was opposed to the Xao? inasmuch as he regarded the Gen-
tiles as co-heirs of the Christian inheritance, and himself
expressly, in his teaching, turned from the Jews to them.
It was opposed to the voyuo^ for he encouraged the Gentile
converts to disregard it and even did so himself; and it
was opposed to the ay to? to7to9, for the independent worship
of his religion rendered its ritual unmeaning and its sacri-
fice an anachronism. And although he could himself conform
to Jewish customs when expediency required it 2 , he had
evidently thrown off altogether the authority the law once
had over his conscience, regarding it as no more than the
pedagogue who had led him to the school of Christ and
1 Acts xxi. 28 ; cf. xxiv. 6.
2 Acts xvi. 3, xxi. 26 ; cf. 1 Cor. ix. 20.
RESULTANT STATE OF PARTIES. 49
whose services could be dispensed with once he had entered
its door 1 . The stages by which the remaining Jewish
customs were abolished in the churches founded by him
cannot be traced. The first step having been taken in
violating the laws as to food, the other observances were
probably discontinued by insensible degrees. It is certain
at any rate that they very soon disappeared. Though the
Paulinists had to contend with Judaism both within the
Church and outside of it, it soon ceased to exist as a motive
force in their own experience, and the name ' Jewish Chris-
tian ' can no longer be rightly applied to them.
Of the original apostles and their followers at Jerusalem
it is harder to speak with certainty. Probably they con-
tinued to the end — as their Master had done before them 2
— to observe the customs of the Jewish law. Occasion has
already been taken to dispute the accuracy of a description
of James the Just by a writer of the second century. But
the legend enshrined by Hegesippus had no doubt its foun-
dation in fact, and the life he professes to depict may well
have been one of strict legal observance and even of levitical
purity. Yet, as has been pointed out, both James and
Peter seem in thought to have got beyond the observances
which they still continued to practise, and, in their Epistles,
the particularity of the Jewish law has been done away
with by, and resolved into the universal obligatoriness of,
the higher 'law of liberty 3 .' Their position does not seem
to have differed theoretically from that of St Paul, for they
admitted, as has been shewn, that the law was not abso-
lutely binding. But, at the same time, their practice was
1 Gal. iii. 24.
2 See Justin Martyr's explanation of Christ's observance of the law. Dial,
cum Try phone , c. 67.
3 James i. 25, ii. 12.
S. H. E. 4
50 THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
perhaps nearer that of the Judaizers than his. They thus
occupied a middle position between the two extreme parties.
But there is no ground for supposing that they meant this
attitude to be permanently held to. It was temporizing
and therefore temporary. It was adopted not to solve the
question of the relation of Christianity to Judaism, but to
stave off a pressing difficulty, so that the question might
have scope given it to work out its own solution in the
natural course of events. And it is therefore not to be
wondered at if the party who persisted in occupying this
position after the close of the apostolic age made no striking
and independent place for themselves in history.
The extreme Jewish Christian party, on the other hand,
refused all compromise with the Gentiles admitted into the
Church— -both kept the law themselves and insisted that
everyone else should do so. But, though it is certainly
"established beyond doubt" as Pfleiderer says 1 "that the
dogmatic standpoint of Paul's doctrine and that of the Jewish
Christians were antagonistic in principle/' the preceding dis-
cussion has shewn that it cannot be established in any way
whatever that the position of these Jewish Christians in this
matter was identical with that of the original apostles, or
that the opinions of the latter were antagonistic in principle
to those of St Paul. We are thus not surprised to find that,
by the extreme views they adopted and their bitter opposi-
tion to St Paul, these Jewish Christians soon sank into the
position of a sect, and, at the same time, seem to have fallen
back into, if they ever got beyond, the doctrines of that
Judaism whose customs they could not be induced to relin-
quish. And, although the ' Judaizers ' we have met with as
yet were 'of the sect of the Pharisees 2 / it would seem that,
1 Paulinism, Eng. tr., n. 23.
2 Acts xv. 5.
RESULTANT STATE OF PARTIES. 51
even before the close of the apostolic age, some of them had
begun to fence about their position with the ascetic practices
and perhaps also with the dualistic philosophy of the
Essenes 1 , or that members of that sect converted to Chris-
tianity had brought their old customs and views with them
into the Church 2 . However this may be, these tendencies
appear clearly enough in the post-apostolic age, and it is
not till then that ' Jewish Christianity ' is to be seen in full
1 Rom. xiv. 21 ; Col. ii. 16 ff. ; of. Baur, Paulus, i. 383 f., and Ritschl,
p. 232 f .
2 It is noticeable that these tendencies appeared first at Rome and
Colosse, not at Jerusalem where the * Jewish Christians' seem to have
remained Pharisaic till the destruction of the Temple brought them into
contact with the Essenes.
THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
It is a mistake, as Baur remarks 1 , to separate the apos-
tolic from the post-apostolic age as if there were any want of
historical continuity between the two, and the development
of the latter did not find its sufficient explanation in the
tendencies already at work in the former conjoined with the
external circumstances conditioning their growth. But, while
this is eminently true of the Christian Church, the circum-
stances which marked off the two periods from one another
were such as to cause something very like a break, and to
necessitate a new beginning, in the history of Judaism. The
development of the Church, external as well as internal,
went on almost as before after the removal of the apostles
from its head. The real separation of the two periods —
apostolic and post-apostolic — is not the death of Peter and
Paul and James the Lord's brother somewhat before 70 A.D.,
or of John about thirty years afterwards, but is that event
which shook Judaism to its foundations and, in a different
way, profoundly affected the Christian Church — the destruc-
tion of the Temple.
To the Jews this was an event of terrific significance.
Both politically and religiously, it seemed to mean their
1 K. G„ p. 130.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE. 53
extinction. With the exception of the brief outburst under
Bar Cochba sixty years later, it did put an end to their
existence as a state ; for any other people, perhaps, it would
also have been the death of their distinctive religion. But
the want of political organization, and, very soon, of home
and fatherland, seems almost to have intensified the national
life of the Jews ; while the demolition of the only place in
which the most sacred rites of their worship could be
solemnized but drove them back on the moral truths which
underlay their religious ceremonies, and made them seek a
new pathway for the development of their creed. With a
tenacity of life which only Jews could exhibit, they turned
the current of their national existence into a new channel,
and, with a wonderful instinct, they chose for it the course
which subsequent history has shewn to be a better guard
of national unity and racial purity than the strongest geo-
graphical frontier or the most compact political constitution.
The study and development of the law now gained full supre-
macy over the other elements of Judaism. Priest as well as
Prophet gave way to the Wise Man and the Scribe : the
theocracy became merged in a nomocracy 1 . And hence, if
the sacrificial temple on Mount Moriah was levelled with the
ground, its place was supplied by a doctrinal temple, built,
like the former, without sound of hammer or of axe, but
which no hostile force could overthrow ; and if victims slain
for the sins of the people no longer smoked on their altar,
yet, at all times and from all places, the supplications of the
chosen race could still ascend to Him who would " call their
prayers sacrifice 2 ."
It is to Rabbi Jochanan, a pupil of Hillel, that the credit
1 Weber, op. cit., pp. 59 f ., 122.
2 Justin, Dial. c. 117. Prayer was regarded by the Jews as taking the
place of sacrifice. — Graetz, rv. 72.
"54 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
is due of having saved Judaism by yielding its political
existence when opposition was hopeless, and bargaining for
the continuance of its intellectual life. He obtained from
Vespasian permission to set up a school at Jabne or Jamnia, a
town on the coast of the Mediterranean between Joppa and
the former Philistine settlement of Ashdod. There Jochanan
devoted himself to the "Talmudism" of which Hillel was
the founder — to the illustration and application of the pre-
cepts of the law — and there his successors continued their
labours till they had to flee from the persecution which
followed Bar Cochba's unsuccessful revolt.
Doctrine thus became "the soul of Judaism V the centre
and the spring of all that was noblest in its subsequent
history. It is hardly too much to say that it henceforth
began to be less and less a religion, more and more a philo-
sophy. The old aristocracy was abolished by the fall of the
state ; the priesthood had lost its function and its place with
the destruction of the Temple. But the influence of the
scribes or doctors of the law, resting on no such external
supports, was only increased by the downfall of the rival
levitical power. While this, however, was the only way in
which Judaism could develop as a living system, the Jews
themselves were .variously affected by the victory of Vespa-
sian. The mass of the people, carried away into captivity
and sold as slaves, maintained their religious peculiarity as
the exiled Jew had long ago learned to do. But when the
few who were left behind saw the pledge of the divine
presence destroyed before their eyes, it was only a section
that followed the lead of R Jochanan, while others, dispersed
in Syria and in Judsea, either betook themselves to an ascetic
life, or found a substitute for their abolished sacrificial ritual
in the Christian faith. The poll-tax (<j>6po<i roov acofidrcov)
1 Graetz, v. 155.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE. 55
levied against the Jews by Vespasian and afterwards cruelly
exacted by Domitian, may also have induced others to hide
their Judaism in the new community ; while the Essenes, as
will subsequently appear, seem about this period to have
gone over to Christianity almost en masse, though the de-
struction of the Temple can have had no very great effect
upon them, as their abhorrence of sacrifice excluded them
from its worship 1 .
On the Christians the same event had a double influence —
a narrower and local as well as a broader and more catholic
effect. The Church of Jerusalem, consisting entirely of
Christians Jewish-born and observing the Jewish law, with-
drew at the time of the war to Pella, one of the ten towns
(Decapolis) on the east side of the Jordan and inhabited by
Gentiles, but returned after the siege and founded a Jewish
Christian Church on the ruins of Jerusalem, with Symeon, a
relative of Christ's, at its head*. It is not the case, as Rothe
supposes, that the mass of the Jewish Christians, bent under
the divine judgment on Judaism, henceforth gave up their
contention for the continued observance of the law, while
those who did not do so sank to the position of heretics.
Jewish Christianity, in both the kinds of it we have already
seen, is to be met with frequently in the second century and
not excluded from the Church 3 ; while members of their
community seem, in the dispersion, to have been brought
into contact with the Essenes and thus to have added another
to the Jewish Christian sects 4 .
But for the leading spirits of the Church — for those who
followed in the lines of the older apostles as well as for the
i Cf. Graetz, iv. 11, 78, 102.
2 Gieseler, K. G., § 32.
3 See for example, Justin Martyr, Dial., c. 46.
4 Cf. Ritsehl, pp. 249 f.
56 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
adherents of St Paul— the destruction of the Temple had a
wider and deeper significance. They saw in it not only the
confirmation of the prophecy of Christ 1 , but an earnest of
the fact that the Jewish ritual and religion had been con-
summated in His death. Not only is this, as has been
already shewn, the burden of the Epistle to the Hebrews,
but the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, too, direct attention
not to the outward observances of Judaism but to the now
realized spiritual truths of which these were the external
signs. And when Baur speaks of the Hebrews as Jewish
Christian 2 , and Schwegler 8 applies the same designation to
such works as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Ignatian Epistles,
and even the writings of Justin Martyr, they must be under-
stood as using the word 'Jewish Christian' in another than
its technical sense as already defined. These early writers
by no means contended for the continuance of the Christian
Church in the old Jewish ritual. The ' Shepherd ' of Hennas,
which is one of the works claimed by Baur for Jewish
Christianity, makes no mention of circumcision, Sabbath or
feast day 4 , while Justin Martyr clearly says, " we live not
after the law, nor are circumcised, nor keep Sabbaths 5 ."
They regarded Judaism as completed and as having passed
over into Christianity in a spiritualized form. The discussion
of the relation of Judaism to Christianity was a common
feature of almost all early Christian documents both within
the canon and after its close, and, although their authors
may have taken up different lines of argument, the canonical
and patristic writings all looked on Judaism as a system
which needed to be interpreted on account of its connection
1 Cf. Justin, Dial, c. 40.
2 Baur, K. O., p. 109.
3 Nactop. Zeitalter, i. 189 ; cf. Baur, K. G., pp. 136 ff.
4 Cf. Baur, K. G., pp. 134 f.
5 Dial. c. 10; cf. cc. 11, 29.
with Christianity, but which had do longer a legitimate
existence of its own.
This tendency was common to members of the Christian
Church whether Jews or Gentiles by birth. The real Jewish
Christians of the post-apostolic age were those who either,
like the original apostles, continued to observe the Jewish
rites themselves, or, like the opponents of St Paul, demanded
that they should be performed by others as well. And the
history of this age shews how, at the same time as these
Jewish Christians were gradually becoming separated from
the Christian Church as heretics, they were also cut off both
from the main body of the Jewish people, and from the main
lines of their development, coming into closer connection and
union only with the excrescences from Jewish life, and thus
getting fixed into the position of sects.
The authorities on which we have to depend in tracing
their relation to Judaism are the extant works emanating
from members of the Jewish Christian sects, such as the
' Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ' and the ' Pseudo-
Clementine Homilies ' and ' Recognitions 1 ' along with any
other fragments that have been preserved; secondly, the
accounts of Justin, Irenaeus, Origen, and Hippolytus— the
last of whom draws chiefly from Irenaeus — and of later
writers, such as Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome; and,
thirdly, the Jewish records, which both supply information
as to the external historical connection between the Jewish
Christian sects of Palestine on the one hand and the Jewish
people on the other, and also shew the points on which early
Jewish authors thought it necessary to attack the new
The Homilies date from the middle or latter half of the second century ;
the Recog. are not much earlier than the middle of the third century.— J. B.
Lightfoot, Galatiaw, p. 327— U.
58 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
It cannot be said that the external relation between
Jewish Christians and Judaism in this period bears any very
close correspondence to the internal or doctrinal attitude in
which they stood to one another. The ,non- Christian Jews
were still the vast, as they were the increasing, majority of
the ancient people. To them too belonged the leadership in
any semblance of political existence they still had and in the
common life of the nation ; and thus, in the outward relation
between them and the Jewish Christians, they took the
initiative, the latter being for the most part passive subjects
who did not wish to break with the mass of their brethren.
Now, to the Jewish eye, the distinctions between the various
parties of the Jewish Christians of Palestine were of no
great consequence. The latter were all Jews by birth, as
well as by obedience to the law ; and they all had adopted a
belief as to Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, which
seemed to the orthodox Jew to contradict true Judaism.
Thus they all came under the same common designation of
Minim or heretics, since their doctrines were inconsistent
with, though they arose out of, their Jewish creed.
But from the point of view of the Jewish Christians the
case was different. Their aim was to maintain their Jewish
customs along with their Christian faith, and to obtain a
speculative view of the world and a practical attitude in
which the two should be harmonized. And thus, according
to their conception of things, they split up into various
parties differing from one another in their inner or theological
relation to Judaism and to Christianity.
And yet, though the external and the internal relations of
the Jewish Christians to Judaism cannot be said to corre-
spond with any exactness to one another in the course of
their development, they are similar in result; and, by the
end of the second century, kll historical or real connection
EXTERNAL RELATION. 59
seems to have been broken off, as well as a complete doctrinal
divergence to have been brought about, between the two
parties. In relation to Judaism, as well as in relation to
Christianity, the Jewish Christians became completely sec-
In the remaining part of this dissertation, I shall trace
first the external relations between the Jewish Christians
generally and Judaism, and then the doctrinal attitude
which the different sects bore to it, without going into details
which the comparative absence of controversy in this part of
the subject seems to render unnecessary.
1. A start does not need to be made here, as was done
in the apostolic age, with a state in which the relation of the
Jewish Christians to Judaism was almost completely indeter-
minate, and the germs of difference were only beginning to
appear above the surface. There may still, indeed, have been
some traces of this original unseparatedness among the ad-
herents of Judaism and of Christianity in Palestine. When
a new creed is struggling with an old one it is always the
case that members of the same family and district are sepa-
rated in their leanings, while some individuals half incline
to the new faith and yet will scarce let go the old. Much
more is this the case when the new religion is no foreign
importation, but itself sprung out of the old, appealing very
much to the same feelings and ideas as well as to the same
people. But that the adherents of the two creeds were even
towards the beginning of this period already out of sympathy,
if not entirely out of external relation, with one another, is
shewn by the poverty of the instances adduced by Graetz 1 to
prove the close connection in which they still stood.
1 Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 47 f., 89.
60 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
The fact that a Jew suffering from the bite of a serpent
may have thought of getting a Jewish Christian to cure him
by the efficacious name of Jesus 1 is by no means to be won-
dered at in the circumstances, and does not shew a close
relation between Jews and Jewish Christians any more than
Naaman the Syrians visit to Elisha proves that a kindly
feeling existed between the worshippers of Kimmon and the
servants of Jehovah. And, if another young Jew who had
joined the Christian Church at Capernaum, was sent off by
his guardian to Babylon to be out of harm's way, that only
shews the opposition the Christians met with and the dislike
with which their doctrines were regarded. The only other
case brought forward by Graetz 2 is of more interest than the
preceding. K. Elieser (d. 116— 7), a distinguished Jew, re-
lated by marriage but a rival in doctrine to Gamaliel II,
Jochanan's successor at Jamnia, persisted in directing his
teaching and practice more in accordance with the system of
Shammai than with that of Hillel whom the school of Jamnia
followed. He thus came under the ban of the Synagogue,
retired from Jamnia, and is afterwards found in Galilee, dis-
puting on friendly terms with leaders of the Jewish Christian
community there. The consequence was that "this cele-
brated doctor of the Mishnah was, on account of his associat-
ing with Christians, looked upon as a member of the Chris-
tian society and placed at the bar of a criminal tribunal. ,,
Elieser, however, easily satisfied the governor of Syria that
he was a Jew and had no connection with the religio illicita
But, not only does this event prove what indeed we know
from other sources— that even the Komans, from their ex-
ternal haughty point of view, could already distinguish clearly
enough between Christianity and Judaism, and only that
1 Cf - Ac *s iii. 6, etc. 2 Cf . Joglj 0J?> cit ^ p 33 n>
THE BIRCHAT HAMMINIM. 61
some individuals made a temporary mistake as to the attitude
of one man, but the conduct of R. Elieser was in defiance of
an express decree of the Synhedrin, forbidding all dealings
with Jewish Christians, — a decree whose justice he afterwards
Already in the Patriarchate of Gamaliel II. 1 — according
to Lightfoot 2 in 82 A.D. — the Synhedrin had forbidden all
social intercourse as well as religious fellowship between the
Jews and Jewish Christians. " I will buy with you, sell with
you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following ; but I
will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you,"
says the Jew in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice ; but, had
Shylock lived in Palestine at the end of the first or in the
second century A.D., he had not dared lend his gold to
Antonio even for a " pound of Christian flesh." Not only
was it forbidden to take meat or bread or wine from the
Christians, as it had been forbidden to take them from the
heathen before the destruction of Jerusalem ; but no business
relations were allowed between them, and the use of the
Christian miraculous cures was specially prohibited. The
Christian creed was, in relation to Judaism, placed below
the Samaritan heresy, and even, in many respects, below
heathenism, and the Christian writings were condemned
with the same sentence as the heathen books of magic.
" The Gospels," exclaimed R. Tarphon, a fanatical opponent
of Christianity and supposed to be the original of Justin
Martyr's Trypho, "and every one of the writings of the
Minim, deserve to be burned with all the holy divine names
they contain. For Heathenism is less dangerous than the
Jewish Christian sects, since it rejects the truths of Judaism
from ignorance, but they both know and deny them. I
would rather fly for safety into a heathen temple than into
1 Cf. Graetz, iv. 103 ff., 434 f. 2 Works, in. 448.
62 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
a meeting house of the Minim 1 ." The Jewish Christians
were further accused of betraying the nation to the Romans,
and the Jews did not scruple to bring against them the
charges of secret immorality which had originated in the
impure imaginations of the heathen opponents of Christi-
To guard the Synagogue against the entrance of mem-
bers of these hated sects, a form of curse (birchat hamminim)
was, under the direction of Gamaliel, prepared by Samuel
the Little, and introduced into the daily prayers. Graetz
seems right in contending, following the testimony of
Epiphanius 8 , that this curse was directed, not against the
Christians at large, but against the Jewish Christians only.
The evidence of Justin 8 and Jerome 4 seems indeed to point
to a different conclusion ; but their statements are obviously
looser and less exact than his. And the fact of the birchat
being thus expressly limited shews still more plainly how
deep was the hostility of the Jews to the Jewish Christians
and how thorough their separation had become. Nor are we
able to discover that the introduction of this formula and
the explicit denunciation of the Jewish Christians by the
non-Christian Jews had any striking effect upon the former.
The fact seems to be that they were, for the most part,
separated geographically not only from the Synagogue at
Jamnia but from the chief Jewish centres to which the
decision of the Synhedrin would be sent, that the alienation
had already taken place, and that the chief result of the
1 Graetz, iv. 103 ; cf. Weber, p. 148,
2 Adv. Haer. 29, § 9 : rpls tt}s fotpas ore eux&s i-iriTc\ov<riv iv rats avr&v
vuvayuyais, twapwrat atrots, Kal dpaB€iuiTlfrv<n <f>d<rKOVTes, oti 'E^/car/parai 6
Oeds rods Naftepafovs.
3 Dial., a 16.
4 In Isaiam Hi. 5 : * Et sub nomine, ut saepe dixi, Nazarenorum, ter in
die in Cnristianos congerunt maledicta.'
NATIONAL ASPIRATIONS. 63
decree and curse would be in helping to stop any tendency
there might be among members of the Jewish communities
to go over to Christianity.
At Jerusalem, however, the two parties met and came
to blows; and the martyrdom of Symeon the head of the
Church there (107 A.D.) may perhaps be put down as an
indirect effect of the birchat hamminim. It is evident, at
any rate, from the account of Hegesippus preserved by
Eusebius 1 , that his death was brought about by the Jews.
This was a time, Eusebius tells us 2 , when a great
number of converts were made from Judaism, and Symeon's
prosecution was, no doubt, only one of frequent collisions
between Jews and Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. It is
instructive to note the tendency and ultimate result of these
conflicts. If Dr Joel is right in saying 8 that, in the time
of Trajan (116 A.D.), imperial permission was given to
rebuild the Temple, that circumstance would bring out the
difference between the national ideas of the Christian and of
the non-Christian Jews. For the latter, the hopes of Judaism
were buried amongst the ruins of the Temple, and could only
revive with its restoration ; and it is not to be wondered at if
they regarded the former as unnational because they had a
wider view of what the nation's destiny was. It is probable,
however, as Joel asserts, that many of those who adopted the
extreme Jewish Christian view, sided, in this matter, with
the party to which he restricts the name of ' national .' And
it was just by such testing circumstances as these that the
separation of Christian from non-Christian Jews would be
rendered complete, by those who were more Jewish than
Christian falling back into Judaism, and those who were
i H. E., hi. 32. 2 Ibid., in. 35.
3 Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, pp. 14 if.
64 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
more Christian than Jewish coming to see the difference
of their own standpoint from the so-called 'national ' one.
The final result of these national aspirations of the Jews
is to be seen in the events that followed the rebellion of
Bar Cochba. It is unnecessary to inquire here into the true
cause of the treatment the Christians of Jerusalem received
at the hands of that leader during his temporary success
(132 — 4 A.D.) — whether it is true, as Justin relates, that they
were tortured unless they denied Jesus and acknowledged
Bar Cochba as the Messiah, or whether, as is asserted from
the Jewish side 1 , the persecutions to which he subjected
them were the consequence of their refusal to join his army
against the Romans. But, when Hadrian was finally vic-
torious and Bar Cochba routed (135 A.D.), when even the
name of Jerusalem was abolished, and the Roman colony
of Aelia took its place, when the Jews were forbidden to
circumcise their children, to keep the Sabbath, to study
their law, to observe any of the rites of their religion, or
even to come within the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, it is
no wonder that the members of the Christian Church there
were then at last taught by harsh experience how incon-
gruous their position was, persecuted by the Jews for be-
traying them to the Romans, and by the Romans for being
Jews. In a mission to Hadrian they denied their identity
with their ancestral people and renounced the customs they
had in common with them 2 . From this time the Church
at Jerusalem was a Gentile Christian Church, and its first
bishop Marcus was himself a Gentile and uncircumcised 8 .
How great or how small a change this may have been
to that Church we have no exact means of knowing. Its
members had probably varied in sentiment and opinion
1 Graetz, iv. 154 f., 457 f. a Graetz, iv. 183.
3 Eus. H. E., iv. 6.
DOCTRINAL RELATION. Go
though not in custom, some merely keepiug the law them-
selves, as born Jews and unwilling to separate from their
brethren, others contending for strict legal observance as
obligatory upon all Christians. Nor can we tell whether,
after the above events, any number of the latter agreed to
sink their Jewish customs and submit to a Gentile bishop,
or whether they preferred to separate themselves altogether
from the community at Jerusalem. Even the orthodox
non-Christian Jews of the period resolved for the time at
any rate to give up the distinctive observances which ren-
dered them obnoxious to punishment, and by the Decree of
Lydda (whither the Synhedrin had migrated) determined
to require from their adherents only these conditions : ab-
stinence from idolatry, from marriage within the forbidden
degrees, and from murder 1 .
From this time Judaism goes along its own newly-
found line of development, undisturbed by Jewish Christi-
anity, while Jewish Christianity undisturbed by it, is found
settled into its various forms according to the way in which
it tried to reconcile Jewish observances with a certain belief
in Christ. So little relation of any sort had it to Judaism,
so little was connection between the two even conceived as
possible, that, while intercourse with the heathen is expressly
forbidden in the Mishnah, that work contains no ban against
Jewish Christianity 2 .
2. But it was not without controversy that this result
was arrived at. We have already seen traces of contact
between Jews and Jewish Christians, and, in notices pre-
served in the Targum on the one hand, and in such a work
1 Graetz, rv. 170. The similarity of these requirements to those of Acts
xv. 29 will be noticed,
a Graetz, iv. 238.
S. H. E. r>
66 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
as Justin's ' Dialogue with Tryplio ' on the other, we have
a record of the subjects on which their disputes turned.
The points on which the Jewish Christians were distin-
guished from the Jews were now, as formerly, chiefly these:
(1) that there was a tendency to modify their strict legal
observance under the influence of the freer customs of the
Gentile Christians, and (2) that there was at the same time,
by a Christology more or less developed, a tendency to
qualify the Jewish doctrine of the unity of God.
(1) That the same standard of observance of the whole
law was not maintained by all the Jewish Christians is
evident from the number of sects to be met with in the
post-apostolic age, whose distinctive characteristics can for
the most part be traced to their varying attitude with
regard to it. From the confused and incomplete accounts
that have come down to us, we can see that there were some
parties which yielded it a full and strict obedience, while
others adopted a mediating position as to its binding force.
We read, for example, of Merists, who contented themselves
with observing parts of the law ; of Masboteans, who, as
their name implies, were distinguished by their strict
Sabbatic observance, though they may also have kept the
Christian Lord's Day or Sunday ; and of Genists, who seem
to have had no distinctive peculiarity separating them from
other Christians, except their Jewish descent 1 .
Much of the confusion in the extant accounts of the
Jewish Christian sects arises from the want of definite
names for the different tendencies. But, since Gieseler's
famous article 'On the Nazarenes and Ebionites 2 / these
two parties have been generally recognized as occupying
distinct positions, while Ritschl has made out a clear case
i Graetz, iv. 90, 433 f.
2 Staudlin u. Tzchirner's Archiv fur dltere u. neuere K. G. % 1820.
ATTITUDE TO THE LAW. G7
for separating from them a third sect — to which also the
name of ' Ebionites ' is given by Epiphanius — from which
sect the pseudo-Clementine Homilies evidently emanated.
And these three are the sects which, both from their, promi-
nence at the time, and from their historical significance, are
of most interest to us.
But we must remember that these parties were not at
first so clearly marked off from one another as the accounts
of the Church Fathers might naturally lead us to suppose 1 ,
and that, for example, the differences between Nazarenes
and Ebionites may not for a time have been so pronounced
as to lead to an actual separation between the two sects.
The fact is that the key to the difficulty we meet with
in treating of the post-apostolic age is to be found in the
state of parties at the close of the apostolic age, along with
the conditioning circumstances which intervened. The
tendency of much recent criticism has, indeed, been quite
opposed to this view, and the aim of the Tubingen school
may be described as an attempt to explain the first century
by the second, rather than the second through the first.
But it is altogether illegitimate to import into an earlier
the definite views and distinctions of a later age, though,
conversely, the germs of difference found in the former must
be used to explain the state of parties presented by the
Now it has been shewn that before the close of the
apostolic period, one party, following on the lines of the
older apostles, agreed to acknowledge the Christianity of the
Gentile converts upon condition (probably) that they should
conform to the precepts obeyed by the Proselytes of the
Gate, though they themselves kept all the observances of
1 Cf. Uhlhorn, Art. 'Ebioniten' in Herzog's Realencykl. in. 623.
68 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
the Mosaic law; that another party — the extreme Jewish
Christians — not satisfied with keeping the whole law them-
selves, demanded that all the Gentile converts should do
the same, and even denied the apostleship of St Paul
because he taught them otherwise ; while a tendency has
also been noticed amongst representatives of the latter
both at Rome and Colosse to adopt the practices of the
Essenes rather than those of the Pharisaic Jews. Corres-
ponding to these tendencies of the apostolic age, we are
able to distinguish, from the rather mixed accounts which
have come down to us, three different parties, or rather
sects, of Jewish Christians in the second century.
Though the names are not used with any uniformity by
early writers, the first sect may be called — as, since Gieseler,
historians have agreed in calling it — the Nazarenes, and the
second the Ebionites, while the third may be distinguished
as Essene Christians.
The term ' Nazarenes ' was at first the common designa-
tion of all Christians 1 ; and, when the latter name was
introduced at Antioch, may still have been used by the Jews
to distinguish the Palestinian followers of Jesus. It is
possible, too, as Graetz asserts 2 , though by no means made
out, that the term ' Ebionites ' had at first a similar general
application, being given from the fact of the primitive
Christians belonging for the most part to the poorer classes
('eMdn = poor). But the earliest records contain no trace of
the name, and the supposition may be entertained — since
the derivations of Origen 3 and Epiphanius 4 are obviously
fanciful — that it was first applied after the destruction of
the Temple to those Jewish Christians who adopted the
Essene manner of life, of which poverty was a prominent
1 See Acts xxiv. 5, etc. 2 Gesch. d. Judeji, in. 249.
3 Contra Celsum, n. 1. 4 Epiph. Haer., 30, § 17.
characteristic, and that it was only afterwards extended to
the Pharisaic party in the Church.
One of the characteristics by which the two sects of
Nazarenes and Ebionites were distinguished from each
other is already pointed out by Justin 1 , who, in answer to
Trypho, says that those who keep the law themselves will
be saved if they recognize Jesus to be Christ of God, pro-
vided they do not try to persuade the Gentiles that their
salvation too depends on legal observance. The same dis-
tinction is made by Jerome (about 400 A.D.), who speaks of
the c Ebionites ' as holding absolutely that the law is binding
and of the 'allies of the Ebionites' as holding that its ob-
servance is obligatory on the Jews only 2 , the latter party being
elsewhere 8 designated Nazarenes. These and other passages
in Jerome, as well as the account of Epiphanius 4 , shew that
the two parties — Nazarenes and Ebionites — maintained their
position as to legal observance as late as the fourth or fifth
century. But by the end of the second — already in Irenaeus 5
— they seem to have been excluded from the Church.
(2) Of still greater importance, however, in relation to
Judaism, than their position as to the law, were the views
these parties adopted as to the person and office of Christ.
We have seen that, after the final destruction of the Temple
and dispersion of their race, even the non-Christian Jews
relaxed for a time the requirements of their ceremonial law.
But they held with undiminished constancy to their national
doctrine of the unity of God. This doctrine they now saw
threatened by the new Christian faith; and, accordingly,
1 Dial., cc. 46—8.
3 In Isaiam, i. 2.
3 Ibid. viiL. 11, 12: 'Nazaraei, qui ita Christum recipiunt ut observations
legis veteris non omittant.'
4 Cf. Haer. 20, § 9 : Nafijpcuoi ol Xpio-rbv o/uLoXoyowiv 'Iiycrou*' Tiov Qeov,
w&vra 8k /card vofwv irokirevofAtvoi.
5 Adv. Haer. i. 26 § 2, m. 15. § 1.
70 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
we find an attempt on their part to emphasize and enforce
the positions regarded as essential to orthodox Judaism,
followed, however, soon after by a modified doctrine which
endeavoured to share the advantages the Christian theology
gained from its intimate correspondence with the postulates
of the religious life.
The latter tendency is to be found developed to an
extraordinary degree in the Talmud; the former, simpler
and more abstract in its theological conceptions, is the doc-
trine of the earlier Targum. It has to defend Jewish mono-
theism against the Christian faith which was regarded as
merely a modified polytheism ; and it does so by contending
that the divine essence is an abstract unity excluding all
plurality, and the divine life a transcendent existence to
which all self-communication is impossible, and which has
no point of connection with the world or with man. 'It is
blasphemy, these authors assert, to speak of God as having
a son : " He is one and not two ; He is one, that is the Holy
One, for of Him it is said, 'Jehovah our God is a one Je-
hovah ;' and He is not two, for He has no companion bound
to Him in His world, He has neither son nor brother." Nor
has man any likeness to God ; if the Scripture speaks of
him as becoming like God, it is the angels of God that are
meant. God remains afar off from men, His presence among
them being only represented by His Shechina, and when
we read in Scripture that He entered into relations with
or acted upon them, "the Targum transforms the divine
activity or the actual relations into something that takes
place in presence of God 1 ." Thus, although they tried to
connect their views with the expressions of Scripture, these
Jewish writers emphasized the divine unity and transcend-
ence in such a way as to convert the personal God, whom
1 Weber, p. 152.
Hebrew history had regarded as having chosen and educated
their race, into an abstract figment of the understanding 1 .
This abstract view was succeeded, however, by a reaction
which regarded the Torah or law as the complete and absolute
revelation of God. And, alongside of, but in abrupt oppo-
sition to, the theory just described, Talmud and Midrash look
upon the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of the Torah, and
God Himself as a God of the Torah. It has been already
pointed out how, in the Jewish state, all ecclesiastical, priestly
and prophetic power and dignity had come to be vested in
the Hachamim or Wise Men who were the experts in the
law 2 . And as the theocracy had become a nomocracy, so, in
the hands of these Jewish doctors, theology became expressly
a nomism, according to which the divine nature found its full
and only expression in the commands of the Jewish Torah.
"God is law, say the Wise" may almost be taken as a con-
densed expression of their creed. But by 'law' they did not
mean the ultimate order of the universe, but the complex
system of precepts by which their conduct was regulated, and
which had been developed out of, or added to, the 'ten
words' given to Moses at Sinai. "It was with this conception
that Jewish theology left the path of mere negation, filled
with life its hitherto empty notion of God, and placed in the
room of the divine Self another in which God revealed Him-
self. The Torah is the content of His life; in it His thought
and will and action move 8 ." But, in avoiding thus the empty
abstraction of their earlier theology, the Jews fell into an
anthropomorphism much more pronounced than they had
1 The subsequent development of this tendency, confirmed and defined
by the influence of the Aristotelian philosophy, is briefly characterized in
the opening pages of an article on * Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy and
Spinoza ' contributed by the present writer to Mind for July, 1880.
* Cf. Weber, pp. 121 ff.
3 Weber, p. 153.
72 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
blamed in the Christian creed. And God, who was at first
regarded as revealing Himself in the Torah, came to be
looked upon as subordinate to it almost in the same way as
men are. It is spoken of as the goal of His will and action,
and He is represented as affected with grief or with joy or
with anger according to the position taken up by His people
or His foes with regard to it. In fine, the spirituality of God
and the other life is entirely lost in a theory which descends
so far as to look on it as a school for the study of the Torah,
and on Him as a great and learned Rabbi 1 .
But, although the historical consequence of its rejection of
the Christian doctrine of God and man thus gave an anthro-
pomorphic and Judaistic turn to the theology of the Syna-
gogue 2 , we have seen that it at first confronted what it regarded
as the heresies of the Christian Jews with a rigid intellectual
monotheism. It distinguished their position from that of
the Nochri or heathen who were undoubted idolaters, and
of the Kuthi or Samaritans who were suspected of idolatry.
It acknowledged that they were originally members of the
Jewish covenant, but regarded them as Minim or heretics
since they had given up Jewish monotheism and held — so
the Talmud puts it — that "the divine powers in heaven are
many 3 /'
In all this there is no distinction drawn between the
various Jewish Christian sects, or even between these sects
and the Jews who belonged to the catholic party in the
Church. Nor is there any hint of the different attitudes to-
wards Christology they adopted. It was enough for the
Jewish doctors that all of them looked upon Jesus as the
Messiah, and as holding a unique position in the universe,
and performing functions which distinguished Him from
1 Weber, p. 154. 2 Cf. ibid., p. 157.
8 Ibid., p. 147.
JEWISH CHRISTIAN SECTS. 73
other men, and that by some at any rate He was* made equal
And yet the most diverse views found currency among
the Jewish Christian sects as to the person and office of
Christ; and we find, as might be expected, that the more
developed Christology goes along with the admission that
the law is not absolutely binding on all Christians, while
those who held to its universal validity, seem to have set less
store by the work of Christ, and, at any rate, made less lofty
claims for His person.
In this way — by the difference in their Christological
views — Origen (185 — 254 A.D.) distinguishes two classes of
Ebionites, some of whom, he says, though they keep the law
hold that Jesus was born of a virgin — admit His supernatural
character — and thus boast themselves Christians, while others
regard Him as born like other men 1 . And though it is
doubtful whether these two classes are the same as the
Nazarenes and Ebionites, the Christology of the former sect
was similar to that of Origen's BlttoI 'JLfiicovaloi,. The belief
that Christ was born of a virgin cannot, however, have been
universal among the Nazarenes. The author of the 'Testa-
ments of the Twelve Patriarchs' — a document emanating in all
likelihood from this sect — holds that He was at first like
other men, but that the Spirit of God descended upon Him
at His baptism, working in Him both moral and intellectual
perfection 2 and even making Him God 3 .
1 Contra Celsum, v. 61 : "Etrr&wa^ 5^ rives Kai rov 'lrf<rovv dirodexofievoi, ibs
Trapk tovto HLpMTTiavol etvai avxovvres' £n S£ ko.1 kclt& tqv TovSaluiv vofiov ws ret
'IouSaiw*' Tr\r)07) (3lovv iOtXovres' ovtol 5' elcrlv ol BlttoI 'Ej&wcuct, tjtoi ifc
IlapBe'vov b/xo\oyovvT€S 6/xoicos tj/mv top 'IrjcrovVt ij ovk ovto) yeyewrjadai, d\V
cus Toits Xoc7toj)s dvffpvwovs.
2 Test. xii. Patr , Levi, c. 18 (p. 1068, ed. Migne) : irvevfia o-vvfoeun /cat
ayiaa/jLov KaTcnraixrei e7r' avTov iv rip vdart. See also Juda, c. 18 (ed. Migne, p.
1084) ; cf. Ritschl, p. 173.
3 Test. xii. Patr., Simeon, c. 7, p. 1052, ed. Migne : ' Aro<rr?i<rei yap K6pu>$
74 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
Origen further tells us that the Ebionites of both sorts
rejected Paul's Epistles and did not recognize his apostle -
ship 1 — a trait also recorded of them by Irenaeus 2 . This
latter statement again would be hardly correct if his Scrrol
9 Fif3co)vaioL meant the Nazarenes 3 . They did not, indeed, use
Paul's Epistles — they for the most part knew no language
but Hebrew 4 ; but, if the 'Testaments of the Twelve Patri-
archs' can be taken as representing their views, they expressed
the highest reverence for his person and sympathy with his
work 5 .
According to Epiphanius, the Nazarenes lived on the
east side of the Jordan, at Pella where "all the believers
in Christ dwelt together after the destruction of Jerusa-
lem 6 ." They probably remained there after the return of
the Church to Jerusalem and thus became fossilized in
their then position, receiving no impulse from the forces
that were at work without. Of the Christian Scriptures,
they seem only to have used and only to have known
(beyond a few fragments) a copy of the Gospel of Matthew
in Aramaic 7 , or, more probably, of what is known as the
Gospel of the Hebrews, — a circumstance also recorded of the
As a sect the Ebionites were much more widely spread
£k tov Aevt dpxtepia, kclI iic tov 'Ioudct pao~i\£a Qeov nal wdpwirov. O'ros <7c6<ret
irwra ret £Qvt), kqX rb ytvos r(av 'lapar/X.
1 Origen, loc. cit.: EtVi ydip rives alpfoeis r&s UaijXov iiri<TToXd\t tov &tto(tt6\ov
fir] irpoaUnevai, wWe/^ 'E/3iwj/cuoi &fJL<f>6T€poi...OvK av ovv oi fiT) xpAf^voi r<j> 'Atto-
crr6Xy, ws fiaKaplip tlvI kolI o~o<}>$ Xiyoiw t6.
2 Adv. Haer., i. 26.
3 Cf. Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 317, n. 3.
4 Kitschl, p. 152.
5 Test, xii. Pair., Benj. c. 11: 'AvaaT'/jcrei £k tov <T7r<^ar6s fJiov iv vo~Tipais
Kcupois dyaTnjTbs Kvpiov, k.t.X. ; cf. Kitschl, p. 177.
6 Adv. Haer., 30, § 2.
7 Epiph. Haer., 29, § 9.
NAZARENES AND EBIONITES. 75
and important than the Nazarenes. Their representatives
were to be found at Home and other large centres l as well
as alongside the Nazarenes at Pella. They counted too
even Gentiles amongst their number, whereas the member-
ship of the other and smaller sect seems to have been
restricted to persons of Jewish race and even exclusive
Jewish culture. But in their Judaean residence there was
probably no distinct line of separation between the two.
They seem to have been together at Pella. There, at any
rate, there was not likely to be any division of race or
confusion of culture ; and, in their common Hebrew descent
and their views as to the binding force of the law, we may
see the close relationship of thought and feeling which
both the Nazarenes and Ebionites retained with Judaism.
They were distinguished from other Jews by a certain belief
in Christ, but, even on this point, they were unable to
agree with the rest of the Church in their view of His
person and function.
In general the Ebionites appear to have occupied the
standpoint of the extreme Jewish Christians of the apostolic
age — though disputes as to the divinity of Christ had not
then come to the front — , while the Nazarenes kept more
closely to the views of the original apostles. With regard
to the binding force of the law the latter seem to have
accepted as a fixed dogma the compromise agreed upon
at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts xv.), and thus not only
practically to have excluded the Gentile Christians from
social intercourse with them, but to have attributed to
Jewish Christians a sort of pre-eminence in the Christian
Kingdom. Thus they continued to hold to what seems
to have been the first idea of the apostles — the expectation
1 Ibid., 30, § 18; cf, Lightfoot, Galatiam, p. 321.
76 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
that all Israel should be converted as the first fruits to the
Lord, and then as a united people bring the Gentiles into
the fold of the Church. But they went further than the
apostles in claiming for the Jews not merely a prior right
of admission to the new Kingdom, but also a higher place
and office within it. The destruction of Jerusalem, however,
removed any such ideas from the leading minds of the
Church, and the catholic writers of the second century agree
with St Paul in looking upon the Gentiles as filling the
place in the covenant of God from which the Jews had
fallen through unbelief 1 ; while, on the other hand, the
'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs' still anticipate the
restoration of the Jewish people, and the Ebionites, ac-
cording to the account of Irenaeus, seem to have looked
for the re-establishment of the Temple and its worship:
"adored Jerusalem as the house of God 2 ." It appears,
moreover, from the passages already quoted from the
'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ' and from the
accounts of Epiphanius and others 3 , that the Nazarenes
agreed in attributing, in one way or another, a divine nature
to Christ, whereas the Ebionites regarded Him as ' man of
Thus both the Nazarenes and the Ebionites look from
the Jewish point of view, and yet manifest very different
tendencies in their treatment of the relation of Judaism to
Christianity. On every point the Ebionites were thorough
Jews and but superficial Christians, whereas the Christianity
of the Nazarenes seems to have sunk deeper than their
Judaism. For the Ebionites held the eternal binding va-
i Cf. Bitschl, p. 172.
2 Adv. Haer., i. 26. Compare the similar views of the non- Christian Jews
in the passages cited by Weber, pp. 356 if.
3 Cf. Epiph. Haer., 29, § 6.
NAZARENES AND EBIONITES. 77
lidity of the law, while the Nazarenes admitted its muta-
bility or relativity by not exacting its observances from
Gentile Christians. The one looked upon Christ as a mere
man (-^iXo? dv6pa)7ro<;), the other recognized Him as, in some
sense at any rate, divine ; and the former looked for the
restoration of the Temple-worship — an expectation not
shared by the latter.
The Nazarenes thus broke with Pharisaic Judaism, their
opposition to which is further seen in their rejection of its
speculative doctrine of dpappkv<r\ or predestination; and,
in trying to defend their Judaism without regarding as
essential the observances laid stress on by the Pharisees,
seem to have followed the notable course — so Epiphanius
tells us 1 — of rejecting the Pentateuch, saying that the law
was in reality different from what was generally supposed :
they appealed from Mosaism to the religion of the Patriarchs.
It is hardly necessary to say that the distinction of Pa-
triarchism, Mosaism and Christianity, as three stages of
religion or even three different religions, has become almost
a commonplace in theology. But what is noticeable here
is the identification of the first and third of these stages,
and the rejection of the second as a falsification of the first :
so widely did this party of Jewish Christians diverge from
the old Jewish ground. This remarkable tendency is shared
by the so-called ( Ebionites ' (Epiphanius) or ' Essene Jewish
Christians' (as Ritschl calls them), to whom we owe the
pseudo-Clementine Homilies, and whose " characteristic
doctrine" according to Schliemann 2 "was the distinction
of the original religion from the religion of the Old Testa-
ment and the identification of the former with Christianity."
It is also to be met with in Justin Martyr who, in his
1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haer., 18, § 1.
2 Die Clementinen, p. 514.
78 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
'Dialogue with Trypho 1 / regards Christianity in opposition
to the law of Moses as equivalent to the religion of the
Patriarchs ; and, as the name suggests, it is the keynote of
the 'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs' in which the
ceremonial observances of the Mosaic ritual entirely dis-
appear, and the law of righteousness is seen to have a purely
It is difficult to say where this latter tendency may have
come from, but it is not improbable that it was, partly at
any rate — that is, in its view of Scripture, not in its
rejection of ceremonialism — due to the influence of the
Essenes, with whom the Nazarenes can hardly have failed
to come into contact from the proximity of their respective
abodes. Not merely the strict morality of the Nazarenes
but also other traits recorded of them by Epiphanius, — such
as their rejection of sacrifice and their abstinence from wine
and from animal food — remind us of the practices of Es-
senism, while that sect was also freer in its attitude towards
Scripture than either Pharisees or Sadducees, and seems
to have looked not merely on its own doctrines but also
on itself as of more remote antiquity than even Moses.
It is possible of course that there may be some confusion
in Epiphanius s account, so many points in his description of
the Nazarenes tally with the characteristics of the Essene
Christians he calls Ebionites. But it is still more probable
that there was a real similarity between the two sects.
Essene influence would in all probability reach and affect the
Nazarenes, shut out as they were from all contact with the
non-Jewish world, and, by the decree of Gamaliel, from
contact with orthodox Judaism itself.
Separated in this way both from Christianity and from
Judaism, and gaining accretions only from the outlying reli-
1 Cc. 19, 20.
ESSENE CHKISTIANS. 79
gious parties of the latter, the Nazarenes lived on as a semi-
Christian sect into the fifth century.
Similar considerations to the above may also lead us to
believe that it was not a mere blunder that made Epipha-
nius describe a party of Essene Christians under the name of
'Ebionites/ For, while their views (so much more nearly
related to Judaism than to Christianity) shut out the Phari-
saic Ebionites from the Church, the birchat hamminim also
excluded them from the society of strict Jews. It must
therefore have been hard indeed to maintain the position of
a Pharisaic Ebionite, and we may well believe that many —
perhaps the mass of those resident in Palestine: those in
other countries might be less affected by the decree — gradu-
ally adopted the practices of the Essenes with whom they
would naturally have been already brought into contact in
their retirement at Pella, not far from the Essene settlement
on the shores of the Dead Sea. It would be the less difficult
for them to give up their Pharisaic traditions, since those
into whose hands these traditions had passed denounced
them openly in their synagogues ; and to leave off sacrifice,
since it was no longer possible for them to perform it in the
only way the levitical ordinances permitted. However this
may be, the so-called ' Ebionites ' of Epiphanius were cer-
tainly far removed from Pharisaism, though traces of the old
Pharisaic Jewish Christianity of the apostolic age may be
found in their repeated references to Peter as their model
and authority \ and in their bitter attacks on Paul 2 . But
their distinctive features are undoubtedly those of Essenes
brought over to a certain belief in Christ, — features also to
be traced in the extant work belonging to the end of the
1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haer., 30, §§ 15, 21; Clem. Horn. 'Ep. Pet. ad Jac.'
c. 4 ad init.
2 Ep. Adv. Haer., 30, § 16 : « Ep. Pet. ad Jac. c. 2.
80 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
second century and dating from Rome, the pseudo-Clemen-
tine Homilies 1 .
The relation to Essenism of the party described by Epi-
phanius as 'Ebionites/ to whom also we owe the pseudo-
Clementine writings, has been so exhaustively discussed by
BAtschl that it is scarcely possible to refer to the subject
without simply repeating what has been much better said by
him. Both parties had a common foundation in Judaism —
in their strict observance of circumcision 2 , Sabbath and the
other requirements of the law. But both differed very essen-
tially from the Judaism in the ascendant at the time, and
differed from it in the same way, as well in custom as in
Both rejected the sacrificial system of the Temple. The
Essenes held it unallowable even to kill animals; these
c Ebionites ' considered that sacrifice had at least been done
away with by Christ*. And, instead of a priesthood in which
one man sacrificed for the sins of the people, both Essenes
and ' Ebionites ' sought priestly purity for every individual.
Hence their abstinence from wine and flesh, and their ablu-
tions before food — recorded of Peter in the Clementines as
well as of the Essenes — and also on other occasions. These
* Ebionites ' looked upon water as having a special cleansing
power and»are said to have held it as a God 4 ; and even to
this (probably) exaggerated statement of their veneration for
a material object, there is a parallel in the adoration paid
by the Essenes to certain visible things as manifesting the
1 Cf. Schwegler, Nachap. Zeitalter, i. 377 ff.
2 This is however no longer required of the Gentiles in the Ps.-Clem. Horn.
3 *HX0oj> KaraXvcraL rets dvaias Kai edv fij] iraticrrjcrde tov dveiv, oft iravaerai
d<ff hfxlbv if dpyf}. Ebionite Gospel in Epiphanius, Adv. Haer. y 30, § 16.
4 Epiph., Adv. Haer., 20, § 10. T6 tidwp dvrl Qeod ? X ov<n. See Clem. Horn.
xi. 24, and Eecog. vi. 8 ; cf. Zeller, Philosopliie der Griechen, in. ii. p. 254.
ESSENE CHRISTIANS. 81
Divinity, and in their invocation of the rising sun. The
dread initiatory oath too of the Essenes — though oaths were
otherwise forbidden by both — passed over with but slight
changes into the 'Ebionite ' community of Elxai 1 .
The greatest practical difference between the Essenes and
these ' Ebionites ' or Elkesaites was in relation to marriage,
which was abjured by the one and rendered compulsory by
the other 2 . But even here there is a connecting link between
the two, for there was always a section of the Essenes by
whom the old Jewish reverence for marriage was carried out
in practice, while, on the other hand, the account of Epipha-
nius 3 speaks of a time when the * Ebionites* valued virginity
as highly as they afterwards did the wedded life.
The care with which the Essenes guarded the inner doc-
trines of their sect and the fact that a similar secrecy was
practised by these ' Ebionites ' make it almost impossible to
compare their creeds. But both had their mystic books, and
the dualistic philosophy that prevailed in the one was con-
tinued in the other. And if the ' Ebionite ' distinction of the
Old Testament prophets into two classes (and the rejection
of one class as false), and their objections to the integrity of
the Pentateuch, have nothing exactly to answer to them
from the side of the Essenes, yet the latter also appear, from
Philo's account 4 , to have dealt with Scripture in a free alle-
There seems to have been only one point in the system
of these so-called Ebionites which cannot be traced in germ
to the Essenes, and that is their Christianity. Ritschl 5 tries
1 The book of Elxai or Elchasai professes to have been written in the reign
of Trajan ; it was brought to Eome in the beginning of the third century by
missionaries of the Essene Christians.— Lightfoot, Galatiam, pp. 324 f.
2 Epiph. Haer., 19, § 1, 30, §§ 2, 15, 18.
3 IMd.,30, §18.
4 Quod omnis probus liber est, e. 12. 5 p. 223.
S. H. E. 6
82 THE POST-APOSTOLIC AGE.
to account for this by supposing that they would be led to
look upon Christ as the true prophet when they saw His
predictions as to the overthrow of the Temple fulfilled. How-
ever this may be, it is just here that the members of the sect
differed most among one another. For while a considerable
uniformity of opinion seems to have existed among them on
other topics, they held the most diverse views as to the
person of Christ. By some He was regarded as the son of
Joseph, by others as an archangel, while some held that the
Christ had been several times incarnate, first of all in Adam
and last in Jesus. In these and other such expressions 1 we
see the traces of that incipient Gnosticism, which, with its
often fantastic medley of Greek and Oriental conceptions
applied to Christ and Christianity, was already beginning to
find its way into the Church. And even here we must note
that the origin of Essenism too has been referred by some to
that school of Greek philosophy which has most in common
with Oriental ideas — Pythagoreanism 2 — , and by others
directly to. Oriental sources 3 . Whether either Dr Zeller's
theory on the one hand, or that of Hilgenfeld and Bishop
Lightfoot on the other, can be made out historically does not
concern us here. For it is obvious that, whether influenced
or not by this type of thought in their rise, the Essenes
betrayed plainly enough a similar tendency in some of their
doctrines, and were thus eminently capable of assimilating it
whenever it came in contact with them*. And thus it
1 Cf. Clem. Horn., xvii. 10, etc.
2 Zeller, Phil. d. Griechen, in. ii. pp. 279 ff.
a Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche Theologie, x. (1867), pp.
97 ff., xi. (1868), pp. 343 ff. Lightfoot, Colossians, pp. 386 ff.; cf. 83 ff.
4 Schliemann (Die Clementinen, pp. 505 ff.) distinguishes these 'Ebion-
ites ' into two classes — common and Gnostic — according as they were not or
were under the influence of this kind of speculation (the Clementine Homilies
belonging of course to the latter class) .
ESSENE CHRISTIANS. 83
happens that, even in those ways of regarding Christ just
mentioned, we may, as Ritschl 1 has pointed out, see the
formative influence of Essenism in moulding the conception
of Christ received from without. A similar influence may
also be traced in the extraordinary figurative representation
of Christ which forms the basis of the Vision of Elxai 8 — a
conception similar to that of the 'Adam Kadmon' or first
emanation from the primal En-soph, which played so remark-
able a part in the Neoplatonic literature of mediaeval
When we consider then that the 'Ebionites' of Epiphanius
and the pseudo-Clementine writings differ from the Essenes
of Philo and Josephus in no essential respect except in their
recognition of Christ, when we remember that we have no
historical information of the existence of the Essenes after
the destruction of Jerusalem, or of that of these 'Ebionites'
before it; seeing, moreover, that the 'Ebionites' suddenly
rise to view from the very places in the proximity of which
the Essenes were to be met with, as well as at the very time
at which the latter disappeared from history ; and when the
only differentiating factor between the two — the introduction
of Christ into their doctrines — is accounted for by the intro-
duction of Christians into their neighbourhood, it is scarcely
possible to resist the conclusion that these 'Ebionites' were
simply Essenes converted to a form of Christianity, and
mixed with a considerable number of Jewish Christians, who
infused into the sect that intense hatred for Paul and that
unqualified reverence for the authority of Peter which are so
conspicuous alike in the account of Epiphanius and in the
But, while a large number of the Jewish Christians thus
became associated and identified with a Jewish sect, the
1 Pp. 211 ff. 2 Epipk, Adv. Haer., 30, § 17.
84 REVIEW AND CONCLUSION.
members of this sect had always lived outside the main
currents of Jewish life and history, and, in adopting as they
now did a certain form of Christianity, lost any remnants of
outward connection with Judaism they may have had before,
and even in their doctrines, fell back on what they con-
sidered to be an earlier and purer legislation than that of
Moses. What has been found to be true of the Nazarenes
and Pharisaic Ebionites is also true of these Essene Jewish
Christians. In the course of the second century the various
parties of so-called Jewish Christianity became as completely
sectarianized in relation to Judaism as they were in relation
to Christianity, — excluded from the Synagogue even before
their separation from the Church.
The course this essay has traversed shews how misleading
it is to look with Baur on the early history of Christianity as
ruled by the conflict of two parties standing over against one
another in abrupt opposition, and by their attempts at re-
conciliation. What we have really had to do with was the
development of a single force, which got possession of the
minds of the early disciples, which modified and in turn
was moulded by its environment, and which found its
realization in the Christian Church. We have seen that
not one of the apostles merely, but all the apostles, were
impressed with this new idea, and that it led them by a
necessary process beyond the Judaism in the midst of which
they had been brought up and it had had its origin. Here,
as always, there was a conflict indeed between the new and
the old. For the customs and ceremonies which had grown
up alongside of the Jewish faith in an earlier stage were not
at once given up when it reached its consummation at a
REVIEW AND CONCLUSION. 85
higher point. The old ceremonies were indeed broken
through by the new step the national life had taken, and the
old customs fell away. But they were broken as the bud
breaks before the blossom ; they fell as the blossom itself
falls before the advancing fruit. The whole development
was a natural and consecutive one in which the Christian
Church worked out into fuller realization the idea that had
been latent in it from the first, and gave birth to institutions
organically connected with its own life to replace the anti-
quated law and ritual of Judaism.
It is from this point that we are able to see the harmony
of the results arrived at in the discussion of the apostolic
age with those reached in considering the controversies and
parties of the post-apostolic age. It might seem at first that
the former indeed presented us with a natural movement of
history, whereas, in the latter, we had nothing before us but
a confused medley of sects. And this is so far true. For, in
the one period, we had to trace the process by which the
early Christians were gradually separated from Judaism, in
the other we had to deal with the relation to the old doctrine
and ceremonial of those who tried to retain them along with
the new faith. In the former we saw the Church led step
by step beyond the circle and influence of the Jewish in-
stitutions, while those who, by their attachment to Judaism
proving too strong for their Christianity, or by their narrow-
ness of vision, could not be induced to make this advance,
were left behind in the march of history, and gave rise to
the so-called Jewish Christianity of the second century. It
is thus a verification of the conclusions arrived at in the
study of the one period, when we find that the Jewish
Christian sects of the other were without any principle of
life enabling them by activity or by influence to justify their
existence. We have seen that some of them tried to main-
tain the strict Pharisaic position, and some to modify its
demands, while others adopted the customs and doctrines of
the Essenes. But, in the various attitudes they took up to
the Jewish law and creed, we have found that they were at
one at any rate in this — that they lost all part in the new
development of their nation. Left behind in the advance of
the Church, their Christianity was only sufficient to cut them
off from the sympathy and fellowship of the Synagogue.
It is one of Baur's most suggestive remarks, that it was
the same deep insight into the true nature of Christianity
which made St Paul first its bitter opponent and then its
boldest champion against the trammels of the law. He saw
from the beginning how impossible it was for its spiritual
content to be held by the forms of Judaism ; and the history
of Jewish Christianity is the most striking testimony to the
wisdom of the course he followed. The apostolic age has
shewn us that the belief of the early disciples contained an
element which forced them to break through the bonds of
Jewish custom and nationality ; and we have seen how those
who, in the post-apostolic age, strove to retain the latter
along with the former, were, in their attempt to do so, sepa-
rated from Christianity without being kept in any living
relationship to Judaism. No stronger confirmation could be
given to the truth of the view that the new religion so sur-
passed and transcended the system in which it originated as
to make Jewish Christianity almost a contradiction in terms.
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In 8 vols. Limp cloth, 6d. each.
The Cat and the Hen ; Sam and his Dog Red-leg j Bob and Tom Lee ; A
Wreck The New-born Lamb ; Rosewood Box ; Poor Fan ; Wise Dog The
Three Monkeys Story of a Cart, told by Herself The Blind Boy ; The Mute
Girl; A New Tale of Babes in a Wood The Deyandthe Knight ; The New
Bank-note ; The Royal Visit j A King's Walk on a Winter's Day Queen Bee
and Busy Bee- GfulFs Crag, a Story of the Sea.
FOR SCHOOLS AND PAROCHIAL LIBRARIES.
The popularity which the * Books for Young Readers * have attained is
a sufficient proof that teachers and pupils alike approve of the use of inter-
esting stories, with a simple plot in place of the dry combination of letters and
syllables, making no impression on the mind, of which elementary reading-
books generally consist.
The Publishers have therefore thought it advisable to extend the application
of this principle to books adapted for more advanced readers.
Now Beady. Post 8vc Strongly bound.
Masterman Ready. By Captain Marryat, E.N. Is. 6d.
The Settlers in Canada. By Captain Marryat. E.N. Is. &d.
Parables from Nature. (Selected.) By Mrs. Gatty. Is.
Friends in Fur and Feathers. By Gwynfryn. Is.
Robinson Crusoe. Is. Qd.
Andersen's Danish Tales. (Selected.) By E. Bell, M.A. Is.
Southey's Life of Nelson. (Abridged.) Is.
Grimm's German Tales. (Selected.) By E. Bell, M.A. Is.
Life of the Duke of Wellington, with Maps and Plans. Is.
Marie ; or, Glimpses of Life in France. By A. B. Ellis. Is.
Poetry for Boys. By D. Monro. Is.
Others in Preparation.
Printed by Strangeways & Sons, Tower Street, Upper St. Martin's Lane.